Monday, July 24, 2006

Go to the Mall, Says National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued yet another severe weather warning for much of northern California today, advising people to "spend time in an air-conditioned locations such as malls..."

People seem to be heeding the advice by spending time in enclosed malls, enjoying climate-controlled comfort. Open-air malls, on the other hand, were completely deserted as oppressive global warming consumed the area. A record 115 degrees in Livermore was an all-time Bay Area high. It even put to shame Las Vegas, which only topped out at 99.

As the heat continued, people are advised to shop shop shop, but only in malls. Spend lots of money since loitering is not allowed.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Park Lane Mall Finally Offloaded

The Macerich Company just announced they offloaded, ahem, sold Park Lane Mall in Reno for an undisclosed amount (translation: we lost the shirts off our backs!). Although a surprise to some, they've been wanting to offload this property for while. In the past, if you went to Macerich's Website to view information about the mall, you'd find nothing. For years they haven't acknowledged the property at all. There is no customer Website for the mall, either. And the most obvious fact, Macerich keeps its tenants in month-the-month specialty leases. That way, they can make changes without any pesky contracts to get in the way of improvements.

The new owner, M&H Realty Partners, previously owned San Jose's Westgate Mall and revitalized the aging center. They recently sold that mall, making a hefty profit, to Federal Realty Investment Trust.

What does the future hold for Park Lane? My Many local retailers in the mall fear losing their leases or exorbitant rent increases. The fact remains, though, losing tenants is the last thing the mall could afford to do. Now with everyone driving miles and miles south to The Summit Sierra or to the major anchors at Meadowood, M&H would probably try to attract big box retailers. Least those not already in Shopper's Square across the street. I suspect the mall will remain enclosed, since that is logical in cold-winter areas. They could also capitalize on the cinema and add some sit-down restaurants. There are lots of possibilities, but we'll just have to wait.

Read the full story.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Broadway Plaza Walnut Creek Memories

Here's one for the memory files. A postcard showing Broadway Plaza and downtown Walnut Creek. I very nearly didn't recognize it myself.

It features a Safeway Foods, H.C. Capwell's department store (now Macy's) and a small collection of mostly downtown-looking retailers. The postcard is postmarked May 1970.

A few things have changed since then, most notable, much of Walnut Creek! It looks nearly rural here. Now it's very urban, built up, and hordes of traffic.

Safeway was torn down and replaced by a bank. The Nordstrom building isn't even there. That was added later when Bullock's joined the shopping center. The parking garage in the photo was replaced with a taller structure. And finally, the back of the shopping center was paved over with a multi-story parking garage. An entire transformation from sleepy downtown Walnut Creek to uber-chic Broadway Plaza.
The back of the postcard reads "Aerial view of one of the many shopping centers of this bustling East Bay area."

Make a comparison by checking out the current aerial.

Visit my review of Broadway Plaza, with photos!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Westfield Valley Fair Mall Expanding... again!

Cat's out of the bag. The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business journal reported that Westfield officials submitted plans to add a pair of anchor tenants to Valley Fair mall by the end of 2008. That would increase the square footage of the mall by a third, swelling the mall to a staggering two million square feet. Consider the mall already weighs in at approximately 1.4 million square feet now. So, where will they put two more anchor tenants? Parking at the mall is worse than an Israeli retaliation already. My only guess is more parking garages.

I contacted the mall to get more details on their planned expansion. Stacy Carroll, Marketing Director of the mall, responded to my inquiry with "As this time, we do not have specifics on the two new anchor stores."

It seems unlikely Westfield would plan an expansion without anchors already expressing interest in the mall. Maybe they are afraid they'll curse the deal. Nonetheless, now we move into the speculation phase. What two department stores would join one of California’s must successful malls? And with Stanford Shopping Center in nearby Palo Alto monopolizing the uber-chi big players of the retail luxury world, who could be interested in Valley Fair?

* Neiman Marcus? Is there enough wealth to go around to have two Neiman Marcus stores so close together?
* Saks Fifth Avenue? Well, since they are contracting rather than expanding, it doesn't seem likely.
* Bloomingdale's? Maybe, but do we really need ANOTHER Federated store at Valley Fair? They already have two Macy's and we all know Bloomingdale's is a Macy's with a bowtie.
* Dillard's? Could the Arkansas-based retailer make its way into the competitive Bay Area market? They've already tested the water with a store in Stockton. I, for one, would love to see Dillard's come to the Bay Area. We could use more choices.
* Mervyn's? They have new owners and are busy trying to turn things around. Seems unlikely they are expanding.
* Target? Could be. Seems like they are in every mall now. This could be a good choice for the high-end mall.
* Kohl's? Doubtful.

What's your guess?

Friday, July 07, 2006

More Sun Valley Mall Memories

Here's another vintage postcard of Sun Valley Mall in Concord CA. It's postmarked 1974. If my memory serves me well, I'd say this was taken from Macy's in the center court ("Great Hall"). I believe towards the JC Penney end. I just remember the cinema on the corner in the JC Penney court and one of two Anna Miller's Pies in the Sears court. Therefore, this must be the center court!

The back of the card reads "Graceful statuary collected from around the world adorn the two-level mall at SunValley, the world's largest enclosed, air conditioned shopping center."

Visit my review of Sun Valley Mall.

Previous entry

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Del Monte Center Monterey

After a recent visit to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, I've updated my review of the Del Monte Center mall. Four years have lapsed since my last visit and the mall indeed has changed some. Many new stores and still some favorites, the atmosphere still was inviting and encouraged lingering. New is a Century Cinemas, built off to one end, but close enough to walk to the mall for before or after-movie dining.

I still find it amazing that a mall with only two anchors manages to do so well. Occupancy was bursting and shoppers aplenty. After a visit to the congested and lack-of-parking downtown, we were pleased to find plenty of free parking.

Visit my review of Del Monte Center.

Old Navy Coming to Bayfair Center

Bayfair Mall in San Leandro, continuing its path of reconstruction and remodel, announced Old Navy is coming to the mall. Old Navy will be occupying the space previously vacated by Long's Drugs.

Foot traffic and store openings seem to be increasing, finally turning around the aging 48 year-old shopping center. Only two indicators of the past remain: the nearly empty food court and the deserted second floor. No plans have yet been announced by mall management concerning those two areas. However, as foot traffic and sales continue to grow, the evolution of the mall will dictate new stores in those once empty areas. We look forward to the complete revitalization of Bayfair mall.

Read the full story.

Visit my review of Bayfair Mall.