Monday, July 27, 2009

Lawrence Plaza - Santa Clara

I have always been intrigued with small enclosed malls and recently stumbled upon Lawrence Plaza in the Koreatown district of Santa Clara, California. Located at 3561 El Camino Real, a large sign was hung outside stating "Food Court." Food sounds good, so we gave it a try...

The exterior is a typical suburban strip mall and it looks like the enclosed mall was originally one or two remodeled anchors, such as a grocery store or drug store. The enclosed food court debuted in August of 2008.

Inside the mall is a large seating area for dining and flanked by a number of eateries. Most of the selections are Korean, but you will find other choices, too (like Fondue). A walkway loops from the north side of the food court to the south side of the food court. We found cell phones, electronics, baby clothes, facial products, golf items, and more. We counted about 17 stores in the enclosed mall. Surprisingly, we found only one vacant store.

The pictures above are of the modest exterior, the food court itself, and a bit of the loop walkway.

How can a tiny mall like this do so well in Koreatown, but would disappear like a bad cold elsewhere?


See the aerial view.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cupertino Square on Life Support

It's not looking so good for Cupertino Square mall.

The mall is now neck-in-neck for title of "most drama" in the South Bay retail market (Sunnyvale Town Center current holds the title).

Cupertino Square currently is under control of the lenders, Gramercy Capital and United Commercial Bank. When the old owners, Cupertino Square LLC and Vallco International Shopping Center LLC, stopped making debt payments, the lenders moved to foreclose on the property. However, Cupertino Square LLC and Vallco International Shopping Center LLC filed bankruptcy to keep the mall from going back into the hands of the lenders. Yet, last month, the mall went back into the hands of the lenders anyway. Now Gramercy Capital and United Commercial Bank are working with Jones Lang LaSalle to get the mall back on track.

My visit the other day showed the mall is declining quickly. A few more stores have closed since last month, but more concerning, new eateries in the freshly revamped food court have already closed! Not to mention, the "coming soon" signs for new eateries STILL say coming soon. I don't think anyone is coming soon anymore.

All this is such a shame... the mall has been trying, but has it made some wrong decisions?

Cupertino Square LLC and Vallco International Shopping Center LLC sought to reposition this mall as an Asian-inspired destination (east Asian). However, my informal racial profiling of shoppers showed that a majority of shoppers fell into the Caucasian and Indian segments. Did repositioning the mall alienate these groups?

What about capital improvement? The mall built a fancy new parking garage for the hordes of shoppers it expected, but the old pink and turquoise "Vallco Fashion Park" sign still adorns Interstate 280. The fourth picture shows the entrance to the food court... As you can see, no signs. I would have figured investing in improvments to guide shoppers to your mall would take priority over potential parking problems.

Some fresh photos for your perusal. The first is the quiet food court at noon. CNN blares on the LCD TVs... a good reason to leave when trying to enjoy your lunch over the pictures of death, dismemberment, and unrest.
Second photo... the deserted parking lot on the backside of the mall.
Third photo... the unusual architecture of JC Penney.
Fourth photo... food court entrance.


Read my guide to Cupertino Square

See the aerial view.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Somersville Towne Center Teetering on the Edge

Some recent photos of Somersville Towne Center in Antioch. Hoping to catch the 90% off sale at Gottschalks liquidation, we found the store already shuddered. Alas, too late.

For a Saturday, the mall appears nearly deserted. Although it looks worse than it really was, one has to question the viability of a mall with little foot traffic. Since our last visit a few years ago, a number of shops have closed. However, this mall isn't "dead," yet.

With few options for a new department store to take the place of the shuddered Mervyns or Gottschalks, Somersville Towne Center could be on the endangered list. However, JC Penney is no where to be found in east county, so perhaps this will be a new opportunity after the economy recovers. Yes, it's ironic since Penney's left the mall in 1997. But with the competitors gone, who knows what can happen.

Enjoy the photos,

Read my guide to Somersville Towne Center

Visit the current Web site.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Vintage Directories: Hillsdale Mall 1982

Here is a vintage mall directory from Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo, California. I estimate it to be from around 1982 since I picked up this directory on my way to the record store to buy the Taco single "Putting on the Ritz." Yes, that's dated in itself.

The mall directory is printed on heavy stock paper, but is not in color. It was clearly cut with a pair of scissors, too.

You may need to put on your bifocals to read the store names. This shear size of this directory stretched Photoshop to the limit. I intended to post the front side of the directory, too, but it was just too big. Another day, perhaps.


Read my guide to Hillsdale Mall

Visit the current Website.

See the aerial view.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Vintage Postcards: Eastridge Mall

A vintage postcard of Eastridge Mall, complete with the ubiquitous Jarman.

In the rear you can see Liberty House.

The back of the postcard reads "The "Grand Court" area of the Eastridge regional shopping center in San Jose, California, features modern shaped plexiglass information booth and a spectacular sculpture in steel by the world famous sculptress, Stephanie Scuris. The center, which is constructed on three levels, boasts four major department stores and 146 other stores."


See the current aerial.

Visit my review of Eastridge Mall.