The Imaginary Landscape

Friday, February 24, 2006

Nordstrom Opening New Store In Palm Desert

Nordstrom to open shop in Palm DesertDepartment store famous for service to build store at Westfield

February 22, 2006
Local shoppers' longtime dreams for highly touted doting customer service, great shoes and high-end fashions will likely come true when the fast-growing Coachella Valley gets its first Nordstrom department store in spring 2009.

The Seattle based-retailer, which started as a shoe store in 1901 and grew into one of the industry's premier luxury brands with a reputation for personalized customer service, announced plans Tuesday for a two-story, 149,000-square-foot store. It will be built on the north end of Westfield Palm Desert, replacing one of the buildings that now houses Macy's.
The announcement, first reported on thedesertsun.com, comes as Westfield plans a major refurbishing of the 23-year-old Palm Desert shopping center at Highway 111 and Monterey Avenue.

Shoppers and community leaders around the valley expressed delight with the news a store offering a nearly mystical shopping experience was on its way.
Nordstrom has been a store that people swap stories about, from the clerks who remember not only your name but your size to the tuxedo-clad piano player easing the mood as you search through hundreds of shoes.

"It's going to take business away from everyone. What I love about Nordstrom is customer service. I never thought Nordstrom would come here," said Liz Burnach of Palm Desert. "If they come here, I pity the other stores. I'm happy they're coming. I think it would be nice if they upscale the mall."

The announcement is also a long time coming for local business leaders who tried for years to get a Nordstrom in the valley.

"I started in this job nine years ago, and they've been talking about this since the day I got here," said Ruth Ann Moore, business support manager for the city of Palm Desert.
Some observers were bewildered, however, why it was going to take three years to get here. Nordstrom officials say the company picks its locations well in advance of actual opening dates, and in this case the local project involves building an entirely new structure.

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www.pickamortgage.comAlso, Nordstrom spokeswoman Brooke White said the company is busy nationally readying six more stores slated to open in 2007 and five more opening in 2008. The timing also will allow Westfield to complete its own planned renovation and expansion of its
Palm Desert mall, said Norine Bowen, general manager of the facility.

The time is rightAfter years of entreaties to the company, what finally turned the tide for the valley is its rapid transformation from a seasonal tourist destination into a community with a growing full-time population with younger residents and families.

State and regional figures suggest the valley population is growing at a rate of about 53 people per day. It is projected to boom from its current 386,000 to 730,000 by 2030.
Nordstrom spokeswoman White said the valley's growth and overall demographics - with many high-income residents as well as a growing number of middle-income consumers - makes it an attractive place to set up shop.

The valley also has many residents, including part-timers, with a long history of shopping at Nordstrom in their original home cities.

"We've been getting calls and letters from people in the Coachella Valley for a long time, asking us when we were going to set up a store locally," White said.
Company leaders also said the store location decision came as a result of long and careful study, and response to popular demand.

"We've wanted to have a store in the Coachella Valley for a long time and we're thrilled to finally have the opportunity," Nordstom executive vice president Erik Nordstrom said in a news release Tuesday. "We look forward to giving our loyal customers in the desert their own Nordstrom store."

According to retail analyst Chris Ohlinger, CEO of Kentucky-based Service Industry Re search Systems Inc., Nordstrom in the past five years has shifted its store location strategy away from choosing sites only on the two coasts and Chicago. It is adding stores in more "heartland" suburbs of cities such as Cincinnati, and in growing areas that have traditionally been thought of as resort meccas, including Phoenix, Las Vegas and now the valley.

Ohlinger said the company has deftly maneuvered itself to target more middle-class and middle- income customers - taking on players such as Robinsons-May and Macy's - with an emphasis on upwardly mobile families.

"Their big target is customers who are on the way up, or want to let other people know they are on their way up," Ohlinger said.

He said the company has always maintained investments in strong training programs, even at times when other retailers cut training budgets to save on costs. That has translated into a store culture where employees are treated very well.

"They tend to make the employees feel as good about the brand as the customers feel," the analyst said of Nordstrom.

More new storesNordstrom will follow several other retailers who have opened new outlets in the Coachella Valley in the past few years, including Kohl's, Wal-Mart Supercenter and Target.
The Nordstrom announcement follows Westfield's purchase of 15 buildings nationwide being vacated by Federated Department Stores, including two Macy's buildings at the Palm Desert mall.

Federated is in the process of converting a Robinsons-May store at Westfield Palm Desert into a Macy's store, after which two current Macy's - one selling women's apparel and one selling home furnishings along with men's and children's clothes - will be closed.

"We are delighted with today's announcement by Nordstrom," said Richard Green, Westfield's vice chairman of U.S. Operations. "It's a strong commitment to the Palm Desert community - one we share."

"Nordstrom will serve as a catalyst for the complete revitalization of the center, including the addition of new specialty shops, lifestyle tenants and signature restaurants," Green said.
Nordstrom's White said the Palm Desert store will employ between 250 and 300 workers who will undergo extensive training in customer service. The company expects to get all or most of its employees from the Coachella Valley, White said.

While specifics of the store's design are not final, White said customers can expect certain constants common to Nordstrom stores, including a wide variety of styles, sizes and designer brands - for its shoes as well as clothing.

Service sets retailer apartAlso emphasized will be the attention to customer service, which has garnered it much of its loyalty since the company's founding in 1901.

One example from retail lore of the 1970s - which company officials maintain is absolutely true - involved a customer who visited a Nordstrom in Alaska to get a refund for a car tire he had purchased at the same site, when it was a dry-goods store under another owner.
Looking to keep the shopper happy and loyal, Nordstrom refunded the man's purchase with no questions asked - even though it has never sold tires.

"I can't promise that we'll be taking people's tires in Palm Desert," White quipped. "But those kinds of decisions will always be up to the store manager."

Westfield Palm Desert's Bowen said Westfield eventually will bulldoze the existing Macy's apparel and home furnishings store to make way for Nordstrom.
Bowen said no other tenants are ready to be announced, and plans for the Palm Desert refurbishing remain "in the infancy stages."

"Right now we're still working out the logistics and the details," Bowen said. "We haven't decided yet where (on the property) we're going to expand, or by how much.

"We've got some people researching all of that right now," she added.
Mall set more changesIn addition to Macy's, which is slated to complete its move into the Robinsons-May space by mid-July, Westfield Palm Desert is also anchored by Sears and JC Penney.

"I think competition is great, and it will bring more interest to Westfield Palm Desert," said Macy's manager Ruth Lusk. She said it is too early to decide whether Macy's will alter its merchandise offerings in anticipation of Nordstrom's arrival.

"We're always checking our mix of merchandise for our resort customers, and we update it on a continual basis," she said.

Macy's will retain some home furnishings operations on the lower level of the Macy's building on the south side of the mall now owned by Westfield, which currently houses the store's women's apparel.

All current Macy's apparel offerings will switch to the Robinsons-May building.
Gilbert Guardiola, manager of the mall's JC Penney store, also said he does not foresee his store changing its mix, noting the Palm Desert JC Penney generally carries the same overall lineup as other Southern California stores.

"It's a pretty exciting thing when you get more competition," Guardiola said. "It's good for the city, and it's good for the mall.

"We're glad to have them as an anchor partner at the mall," he said.
About NordstromQUESTION: What kind of Nordstrom can can shoppers expect?ANSWER: Company officials say the Nordstrom planned for Westfield Palm Desert is a two-story, 149,000-square-foot store, to open in spring 2009. It will be similar to approximately 100 of its other upscale, full-line stores nationwide, and is not an outlet store. It is likely to have most of the hallmarks of its other regular stores, including high attention to customer services. Store spokeswoman Brooke White said because the store is still being designed, it is not yet known whether it will have the well-known Nordstrom Cafe or signature piano player seen in many - but not all - of its stores.Q: What kind of merchandise can consumers expect?A: It will have the same offerings as its other full-line stores in shoes, designer men's and women's clothing, and household furnishings. It is not yet known whether it will have items catering specifically to desert customers.Q: What other changes are planned for Westfield Palm Desert?A: No details were available as of Tuesday. Parent company Westfield Group has announced plans for $2billion in renovations for its malls worldwide, slated to be initiated in the next four years. The company is seeking out new tenants including lifestyle retailers, restaurants and anchor d partment stores.

Individualized shoppingMen can purchase made-to-order dress shirts for a personalized fit. Meanwhile, the lingerie department has certified fitters, specially trained to fit all women, including those who have had reconstructive surgery.ShoesNordstrom began in 1901 as a shoe store and continues to win over the soles of America by offering a wide selection of shoes in a generous size range.The upscale apparel at Nordstrom includes designer collections from Michael Kors, Armani, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana.The customer service at Nordstrom is so legendary it's the topic of books. One classic guide is "The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Family Mart & Tesco Goes Head to Head

Looks like Tesco, the retail giant is going to be opening up it "Tesco Express" store in California soon, though no locations have been disclosed.

This comes right on the heal of Family Mart, a Japanese convenience store, having opened up it's 1st U.S. Famima concept in West Hollywood. The store is a couple of notch above 7/11 with a Japanese flare. It's not clear if Tesco Expres will have a British flare.
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Britain's Tesco Plans to Enter U.S. Market With Chain of West Coast Express Stores
By Juliet Chung, Times Staff Writer


Another British invasion is coming — and this time it's targeting your neighborhood convenience store.Supermarket giant Tesco, which has dominated Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other competitors to maintain its standing as Britain's largest retailer, announced Thursday that it would enter the U.S. market next year by opening convenience stores on the West Coast.

Tesco said it would spend as much as $435 million a year to build stores in the U.S. based on its Tesco Express format.

The company declined to release details about the number, location and branding of its planned stores, citing competitive concerns. It said it expected to break even by the end of its second year in the U.S.Tesco, which had previously focused its expansion plans on Europe and Asia, will be attempting to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive $395-billion U.S. convenience store industry.New players enter each year, analysts said, while existing segment leaders such as 7-Eleven continually retool their offerings in attempts to win market share and customer loyalty.Tesco must hurdle obstacles that typically accompany a transatlantic move, including a lack of name recognition and different nuances in customer preference, analysts said.

That's a particularly significant calculation for convenience stores, where the limited range of inventory leaves little room for error.Another challenge: finding prime locations in markets that in many cases may already be built out. Nevertheless, said analyst Neil Saunders of Verdict Research in London, if Tesco finds promising locations and stocks its shelves with crowd pleasers, it can win over disaffected customers."The thing is, grocery customers are very fickle; they will change allegiance quite easily for something better," he said. "If Tesco gets its proposition right, I think they can capture customers. But they have to get it right, and that's the difficult bit."Chief Executive Terry Leahy said in a statement Thursday that Tesco had developed a format, drawing on years of market research here, that "we believe will be really popular with American consumers."

Tesco provided no details, though its Express stores in other markets primarily stock groceries.Tesco's announcement surprised some analysts, who noted that the company's U.S. plans marked a shift from its emphasis on emerging markets. Counting its 2004 expansion in China, Tesco has stores in 12 markets outside Britain; the majority of its selling space is concentrated in its international markets.Analyst Saunders said that although the announcement came "out of the blue," the company's westward gaze made sense given its ambition."

They are looking to become increasingly global," he said, "and you can't really get global unless you have some sort of presence in the U.S."Carving out a distinctive identity will be important, said Nate Franke, an Orange County-based analyst with Deloitte & Touche."It's a brand that is relatively unknown to the U.S. consumer, so I think their strategy has to be to create a niche, something that's different that the consumer isn't currently getting from the existing participants," he said. Tesco operates 2,647 stores, including 800 Express locations. The company, based in Cheshunt, England, reported 2005 profit of $3.5 billion, on sales of $64.6 billion.

Family Mart & Tesco Goes Head to Head

Looks like Tesco, the retail giant is going to be opening up it "Tesco Express" store in California soon, though no locations have been disclosed.

This comes right on the heal of Family Mart, a Japanese convenience store, having opened up it's 1st U.S. Famima concept in West Hollywood. The store is a couple of notch above 7/11 with a Japanese flare. It's not clear if Tesco Expres will have a British flare.
*************************************************
Britain's Tesco Plans to Enter U.S. Market With Chain of West Coast Express Stores
By Juliet Chung, Times Staff Writer


Another British invasion is coming — and this time it's targeting your neighborhood convenience store.Supermarket giant Tesco, which has dominated Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other competitors to maintain its standing as Britain's largest retailer, announced Thursday that it would enter the U.S. market next year by opening convenience stores on the West Coast.

Tesco said it would spend as much as $435 million a year to build stores in the U.S. based on its Tesco Express format.

The company declined to release details about the number, location and branding of its planned stores, citing competitive concerns. It said it expected to break even by the end of its second year in the U.S.Tesco, which had previously focused its expansion plans on Europe and Asia, will be attempting to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive $395-billion U.S. convenience store industry.New players enter each year, analysts said, while existing segment leaders such as 7-Eleven continually retool their offerings in attempts to win market share and customer loyalty.Tesco must hurdle obstacles that typically accompany a transatlantic move, including a lack of name recognition and different nuances in customer preference, analysts said.

That's a particularly significant calculation for convenience stores, where the limited range of inventory leaves little room for error.Another challenge: finding prime locations in markets that in many cases may already be built out. Nevertheless, said analyst Neil Saunders of Verdict Research in London, if Tesco finds promising locations and stocks its shelves with crowd pleasers, it can win over disaffected customers."The thing is, grocery customers are very fickle; they will change allegiance quite easily for something better," he said. "If Tesco gets its proposition right, I think they can capture customers. But they have to get it right, and that's the difficult bit."Chief Executive Terry Leahy said in a statement Thursday that Tesco had developed a format, drawing on years of market research here, that "we believe will be really popular with American consumers."

Tesco provided no details, though its Express stores in other markets primarily stock groceries.Tesco's announcement surprised some analysts, who noted that the company's U.S. plans marked a shift from its emphasis on emerging markets. Counting its 2004 expansion in China, Tesco has stores in 12 markets outside Britain; the majority of its selling space is concentrated in its international markets.Analyst Saunders said that although the announcement came "out of the blue," the company's westward gaze made sense given its ambition."

They are looking to become increasingly global," he said, "and you can't really get global unless you have some sort of presence in the U.S."Carving out a distinctive identity will be important, said Nate Franke, an Orange County-based analyst with Deloitte & Touche."It's a brand that is relatively unknown to the U.S. consumer, so I think their strategy has to be to create a niche, something that's different that the consumer isn't currently getting from the existing participants," he said. Tesco operates 2,647 stores, including 800 Express locations. The company, based in Cheshunt, England, reported 2005 profit of $3.5 billion, on sales of $64.6 billion.

H&M Announces 3rd LA Location

Last week, H&M anounce that it will open its 3rd LA store in Hollywood. The unit will apparently be located at the current Hamberger Hamlet space, across from the Hollywood & Highland mall.

The unit, at 10,000 sq ft, will be the smallest of the 3 stores (Pasadena 12,000 sq ft/Beverly Center 25,000 sq ft. It might also carry on womens apparel. The press release below states that the store will open in fall of 2007.

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HOLLYWOOD--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 16, 2006--Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the fashion-forward Swedish apparel retailer, will make its Hollywood debut with a 10,000-square-foot store leased from CIM Group on Hollywood Boulevard, across the street from the Hollywood & Highland Center. H&M is one of the most popular fashion retailers in the U.S. and Europe with its proprietary collections of trendy, affordable and well-made women's apparel.

"Hollywood has the demographics and the appeal as a hip location which is attractive to the H&M customer who wants what's current, trendy, and creating a buzz," said Shaul Kuba, principal, CIM Group. "Selecting Hollywood Boulevard signals the renewed attraction of Hollywood as a retail and entertainment destination."

CIM Group plans a complete remodel of the location at 6914 Hollywood Boulevard, transforming the former restaurant space into a bright, contemporary storefront. Hollywood is the second location H&M has leased with CIM Group. Earlier this year it was announced that the retailer plans to open a 12,000-square-foot store in a CIM development on Colorado Blvd. in the bustling Old Pasadena district in 2006.

"H&M has a tremendous following among young women who want the latest fashions. The company's distinctive clothing collections often include special lines from top designers such as Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld," he added.

H&M will be directly across the street from CIM Group's Hollywood & Highland Center, which has 387,000 square feet of national and local fashion and luxury retailers, some of Hollywood's hottest clubs and restaurants and the 3,400-seat Kodak Theatre. Since acquiring the center in 2004, CIM Group has added premier retailers such as Virgin Megastore's west coast flagship in 20,000 square feet, BCBG Max Azria and American Eagle Outfitters to its collection of top retailers and restaurants. CIM also has made substantial improvements to Hollywood & Highland Center with escalators to transport guests from Hollywood Boulevard to all four levels of the center, enhanced lighting and signage and is currently constructing an interactive water feature in the center courtyard to debut in early May.

"The success of Hollywood & Highland has brought scores of Los Angeles residents back to Hollywood Boulevard for shopping, dining and entertainment. This, coupled with the large number of tourists, has given the area a significant daytime and nighttime population," observed Kuba.

H&M's exclusive collections are created by more than 100 designers and approximately 100 buyers who work together to deliver the three components comprising H&M's concept -- fashion, price and quality. H&M began its U.S. expansion in 2000 with the opening of a flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. In November 2005, it opened its first West Coast stores in San Francisco attracting throngs of shoppers. The Hollywood store is expected to open in late 2007.

CIM Group has identified Hollywood as a premier urban district for investment and development. In line with its long-term view of a flourishing Hollywood community, the company has built a portfolio that includes a variety of properties. They include housing, office, entertainment and a diverse mix of restaurants and retailers to support revitalization of the area as a vibrant urban center serving residents, visitors and businesses. The company made its first investment in Hollywood in 1998 with the acquisition of the office building now known as the TV Guide Hollywood Center, which also is the company's headquarters. Today, the CIM Group owns 10 properties throughout the area and is one of the largest property owners in Hollywood.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

LACMA Phase I Press Release

Here's a press release on phase I of LACMA's expansion plan. It also goes into detail about the last 2 phases of the project.

BTW, the Getty Villa opens this saturday. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, you'll have to wait till July!

First Phase of Construction to Transform LACMA Campus and Visitor Experience Begins; $172 Million Raised in Support of Full Project and Endowment

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 26, 2006--The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has begun construction on Phase I of its comprehensive building program to expand, upgrade, and unify its six-building, 20-acre campus. The design, developed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with the museum, will dramatically transform LACMA by creating new exhibition galleries, public spaces, and gardens, as well as a new building devoted to exhibiting contemporary art. The expansion and upgrade will enable LACMA to better present its outstanding permanent collection and create a more meaningful experience for the full range of its visitors.

To date LACMA has raised $172 million for Transformation: The LACMA Campaign, the museum's capital campaign, which encompasses the expansion and upgrade as well as a doubling of the museum's endowment. The multi-phase project will strengthen LACMA's role as the premier encyclopedic public museum in the western United States and one of the foremost art museums in the world.

The current project builds on LACMA's successful efforts over the last ten years, which have included the development of dynamic and highly successful new public programs, deeper engagement with L.A.'s diverse communities, strategically building and enhancing the museum's permanent collection, and a systematic strengthening of the institution's finances.

"With Phase I well underway, our campaign now focuses on Phases II and III and our commitment to doubling the museum's endowment," said Nancy Daly Riordan, LACMA Board Chair. "During its short history, LACMA has made remarkable strides toward establishing itself as a leader in the national and international arts community, and the Board of Trustees is committed to securing LACMA's place as the premier museum of the 21st century."

Over 80% of the museum's trustees have contributed to the ongoing fund-raising campaign -- a total of $132 million. Recent gifts and pledges include:
-- $25 million from Lynda and Stewart Resnick;
-- $23.9 million bequest to establish the Anna H. Bing Children's Art Foundation Endowment;
-- $3 million from Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Kendall;
-- $1 million from BP America Incorporated;
-- $1 million from Mrs. Harry Lenart;
-- $1 million from Ressler/Gertz Family Foundation;
-- $1 million from Marc and Eva Stern Foundation;
-- $500,000 from John and Gail Liebes;
-- $500,000 from Tally and Bill Mingst;
-- $500,000 from Johnson Controls.

An additional $1 million has been received from estate gifts earmarked for the endowment.
"The transformation of LACMA is deeply rooted in our mission to reach all audiences and to make art come alive for them and be relevant in new ways," said Melody Kanschat, LACMA President. "The Renzo Piano design creates a facility that will be welcoming to all and will provide state-of-the-art spaces in which to exhibit our growing permanent collection."

New Design -- Phase I
Better integrating LACMA's buildings and entire campus, the new design enables visitors to easily travel through galleries, gardens, and plazas to explore the museum's collections and educational resources. Visitors will be able to see LACMA's permanent collection chronologically or within the framework of European, American, Asian, or Contemporary Centers of Art. The first phase of the program, budgeted at $145 million, is scheduled to be completed in 2007. Site preparation began in late 2005, with completion of construction scheduled for 2007.

Highlights of Phase I include:

-- The Lynda and Stewart Resnick Grand Entrance Pavilion at LACMA, a new, 20,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed pavilion and adjacent patios that serve as the museum's main entrance and as a public plaza.
-- A covered concourse linking the western and eastern sections of the 20-acre, 1/3-mile-long campus.
-- The Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA, a new building with 60,000 square feet of gallery space designed to exhibit contemporary art.
-- The revitalization and renovation of the Ahmanson Building lower level galleries and Atrium, including the creation of a dramatic, sky-lit, 60-by-60-foot space for music performances, lectures, and other public events and gatherings.
-- Public plazas opening onto Wilshire Boulevard to the south and Hancock Park to the north.
-- The expansion of Hancock Park.
-- A new underground parking garage.

-- A unified facade along Wilshire Boulevard that provides a coherent and welcoming public face for the museum and unifies existing architecture from the last seven decades.
LACMA is the first major encyclopedic museum to make contemporary art one of its principal areas of activity. The creation of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA is a central component of the mission to fully integrate contemporary art into LACMA's collecting strategy, exhibitions, and public programs, and to explore the interplay of the art of our time with that of the past. With an exceptional concentration of artists, art schools, galleries, collectors, and arts institutions, Los Angeles has emerged as one of the great centers of contemporary art. LACMA plays a vital role in supporting and fostering this dynamic and influential community.

LACMA Centers and Collections -- Phase II
In Phase II, the collections will be reinstalled in ways that enhance the visitor's experience. The works of art are being reorganized into four centers. With the addition of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, LACMA will have the space to dedicate individual facilities to each of the four areas:

-- Center for European Art -- housed in the Ahmanson Building
-- Center for Asian Art -- located in the Hammer Building and the Pavilion for Japanese Art
-- Center for Art of the Americas -- in Modern and Contemporary Building (formerly the Anderson Building)
-- Center for Contemporary Art -- in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA

In the project's second phase, the permanent collection will be reinstalled in newly renovated and reorganized galleries. Enlarged special exhibition spaces will be designated in higher-level floors, ensuring that plaza-level galleries are always filled with artworks and open to the public. This will also encourage visitors to explore the permanent collection and make unexpected discoveries as they travel through the galleries.

During the last decade, LACMA's collections have grown and diversified along with the city. A strategic initiative to acquire works with special relevance to the heritage of the people of Los Angeles -- one of the country's most diverse cities -- has resulted in the acquisition of important collections of Korean, Mexican, Islamic, and Chinese art, along with major European works. The museum's permanent collection spans cultures across time and across the globe. Among the highlights are:

-- An exceptional collection of works by 20th-century Mexican artists
-- The largest collection of Korean art outside Asia
-- The foremost collection of Old Master paintings in the western U.S.
-- One of the world's finest collections of Islamic art
-- Extensive Pre-Columbian collections
-- In-depth holdings of South and Southeast Asian art

LACMA West -- Phase III
Phase III will focus on the reconfiguration of LACMA West. The former May Company Department Store will be used for expanded galleries, facilities, and administrative space. This includes:

-- A "nerve center" for new media and photography that promotes experimentation with new technology and the arts.
-- Enlarged facilities and galleries tailored for programs for children, young people, and families.
-- A floor for special facilities for the museum's collections of photography, costumes and textiles, and prints and drawings.
-- New spaces for the LACMA library, enhancing accessibility and use by students, scholars, and the public.
-- Curatorial and administrative offices.
-- A second major special exhibition hall, providing an additional 15,000 square feet of flexible gallery space.
-- An elegant rooftop Conference Center, special event facilities, and gourmet restaurant.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Misc Stuff

LA Live Update

KB Homes have decided to partner up with AEG to build a 50 story hotel/condo near the convention center after one of the investors bailed out. The ground breaking is still on tap for this summer with completion expected sometime in 2008.



Dior Earnings

Christian Dior just announced it earnings for 2005 and with sales of $825.7 million, its edging closer to its goal of becoming a $1B company. It plans to open up 10-15 stores this year, including a Dior Homme store in Beverly Hills.

New Concepts


Expect to see more new store concepts from familiar retailer by the end of this year. Gap is expecting to roll out a couple more of it's Forth and Towne store. The store is targeting women in their 30s/40s who have outgrown the Gap & Banana Republic.
There are current 4 locations-3 in Illinois and 1 in NY.

In the meantime, Abercrombie & Fitch is busy with it Reulh store which caters to an older crowd than A&F.

Not to be outdone, Martin+Osa is American Outfitters answer to Banana Republic.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Major Re-Cap

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since my last post. Time has just flown by hasn't it?
A lot has happened, so lets just let started.

Westfield Century City
In mid December, the shopping center unveiled its new AMC Theatre and a new dinning terrace (don't you dare call it a food court). The new space is bright and very hip and modern. Gone are paper plates and plastic utinsils. In their place are real china and silverware. I was really impress.

Here's a picture

H&M First 2 SoCal Locations Confirmed

Just last friday, the SF Chronicle announced that H&M will open 2 LA store by fall 2006. One will be on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, while the other will be at the Beverly Center. The article also stated that he company would like to open 3 additional stores at that time. I love to speculate, so here goes...the additional stores will be at South Coast Plaza, Third Street Promenade, and Westfield Topanga. We'll know if I'm right in a couple of months.

LACMA Starts Phase I Expansion

About 4 weeks ago, I drove past Los Angeles County Museum of Art and saw what looked like land preparation for the first of a three phase expansion plan. Phase I will include a centralized Entry/Welcome pavilion enclosed in glass. Next to it will be the 3 storey BCAM (Broad Contempory Art Museum). Both structures should be completed by fall of 2007.

Barney's Opening New Flagship in Dallas

Barney's will open an new 88,000 sq ft store in Dallas. This come almost a decade after it left the Dallas market. The store will be a contrast to the previous 11,000 sq ft store it had in the city, not only in terms of size, but sevice and selection. Many people felt the company did not under stand what the dallas market wanted--the store offered lots of black, when people wanted colors.

The store will be located at the Nortpark Center mall in the former Lord and Taylor site.

Glendale Galleria Renovation

After losing the battle to prevent Caruso from building a Grove-like center next to the Galleria, the mall owner, General Growth has decided to renovate the aging mall. Plans are still scetchy, but the renovation should cost around $30 million and will likely include an extensive redesign of the interior and exterior of the center to make it more inviting.

I find this very welcoming new after my last visit about 2 months ago. The center just felt so outdated. Eventhough there were skylights, the extensive dark bricks used throughout just cast and ominous glow to the place.

Construction of Westside Too Begins....Finally!!

I can't believe it, but it's true--the redevelopment of the Westside Too at the Westside Pavilion has begun. The section of the mall, just west of Overland is now closed, including Barnes & Noble. The construction should last a year and a half.

When it finally opens in mid 2007, patrons will new restaurants and a new 12 screen Landmark Theatre. At that time the current 4 screen will close. Also B&N will be back.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Barneys NY Opening in SF

After years of speculation, looks like Barneys New York might have found a location for its first San Francisco store. Back in the early 90's, when I. Magnin closed on Union Square, there were rumors the Barney's would take over the location. But it never materialized.
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Fashion tip: Barneys bound for Union Square
By Sarah Duxbury
San Francisco Business Times
Updated: 7:00 p.m. ET Nov. 27, 2005


Barneys New York is getting ready to try on San Francisco.
Zeroing in on almost 60,000 square feet of retail space on Stockton Street, the upscale New York City fashion institution is primed to join the increasingly competitive fray of Union Square. Combined with next year's opening of Bloomingdale's, Barneys would bring the number of department stores within a five-block radius to six.

Barneys, purchased by Jones Apparel Group for $400 million last December, has ample cash to expand and has been looking for a spot for its first San Francisco store for more than a year. The Westfield San Francisco Centre was eager to win them as an accompaniment to the impending Bloomingdale's, but Barneys looks most likely to settle in the former home of FAO Schwarz at 47 Stockton St. That building, across the street from Macy's and Crate & Barrel and one block south of Neiman Marcus, has remained about three-quarters vacant since FAO Schwarz closed three years ago.

Expectations are that Barneys will sign a lease within several weeks. The company said it would not comment before a lease is signed, and a broker for the landlord said a deal is not yet in place.
"(Barneys is) certainly a tenant we continue to talk to, but nothing has been done," said Vikki Johnson of broker Johnson Hoke.

Other retail brokers believe a deal is imminent.
"They are way down the road on this site," said Julie Taylor, a broker with GVA Whitney Cressman. "It is all but confirmed."

Size-wise, 47 Stockton fits with Barney's criteria for a flagship store, which are all bigger than 40,000 square feet. Rent on the building is likely to range between $1.6 million and $2 million a year, according to sources familiar with the area.

Existing tenants Birkenstock and Ghirardelli, which have active leases in the building, would have to relocate to make way for Barneys. Only 30,000 square feet of the five-story building is currently vacant, with just 5,000 of them on the ground floor. Birkenstock has 17,900 square feet on the ground and basement floors, and Ghirardelli has about 1,200 square-feet at street level.

Fabrizio Parini, CEO of Ghirardelli, said that he has been told by the building's broker that a master tenant is eager to take over the entire building, including Ghirardelli's retail space. Parini said he has over four years remaining on his lease and will not finalize any agreement before Christmas. Birkenstock did not return a call seeking comment.

Barneys is eager to expand and has enjoyed same-store sales growth in excess of 15 percent for the past two years, as the luxury retail market boomed.

Howard Socol, president and CEO of Barneys, said in February 2003 that the company would open two new Barneys department stores by 2007.

In April, 2005, Barneys signed a 46,000-square-foot lease at Copley Place in Boston to open its first new flagship store in more than 11 years. It will open in the spring of 2006.

The company has flagship stores in New York, Chicago and Beverly Hills, with additional full-service stores in Seattle, Manhasset, N.Y. and Chestnut Hill, Mass. It also has seven, smaller and trendier Co-op locations, which it began expanding outside of New York City in 2003, and 11 outlet stores around the country.

Following this month's opening of European fashion retailer H&M, Barneys will be "a tremendous catalyst for Stockton Street," Taylor said. "Both Stockton and Powell have, within a year's time, brought in two tremendously powerful retail anchors, strengthening those north-south corridors."

That strengthening reflects the general firming up of the Union Square area, where vacancies are falling and rents have again begun to rise.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rick Caruso Making More Enemies





A couple of weeks back, Rick Caruso won a fight that would allow him to build the “Americana on Brand”—a Grove-like life style center—across the steet from the Glendale Galleria owned by General Growth.

Now he’s at it again. This time, it’s the Shops at Santa Anita, an outdoor mall with a man-made lake. And the owner he’s upsetting is not General Growth, but the brand happy developer, Westfield.

To show that he’s a good guy, Caruso has invited residents to share their input. He is also offering tours of all of his retail centers (The Grove, The Commons, etc). He will provide free transportation and a free lunch to boot. Click here to register.

More info on the project click here.
More renderings click here.
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Self-preservationWestfield pushes for Santa Anita Park's historic status
By Gene Maddaus Staff Writer

ARCADIA - The Westfield Group has nominated Santa Anita Park to the National Register of Historic Places, claiming development plans by Caruso Affiliated constitute a potential threat to the racetrack.

The track was built in 1934. In its heyday, it was a haunt for millionaires and movie stars. Although the derby-day crowds have dwindled, the track remains one of the city's most cherished structures.

The track's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp., has partnered with mall developer Rick Caruso in an effort to bring back the crowds. Caruso plans to build the Shops at Santa Anita, an 800,000-square-foot outdoor mall, in the track's south parking lot.

Caruso has spoken fondly of the track's architectural features and vowed to preserve it while introducing horse racing to a younger generation.

The Westfield Group owns the Westfield Santa Anita mall, which is adjacent to the track. Westfield has strongly opposed the Caruso mall, backing a group called Arcadia First! to amplify community concerns about the project.

Among other issues like traffic and parking, some residents have worried that Caruso's project will block views of the historic grandstand.

"No less than 75 percent of the people who have joined Arcadia First! have expressed a concern over the protection of that historical view," said Arcadia First! Executive Director Bernetta Reade.

In filing the application for national landmark status, Westfield stressed the potential threat to the track.

"Once those buildings are built, they will be there forever - and will forever negatively impact the quality of life of our neighbors in Arcadia," said Westfield spokeswoman Katy Dickey, in a statement.

Magna would have to agree in order for the track to be placed on the register. Placement on the list would not restrict development on the site.

"The purpose of the designation is to highlight the historic significance of the property," said Christy McAvoy, the historic preservation consultant hired by Westfield to write the 200-page application.

Other sites in the area that are listed on the National Register include the Rose Bowl and the Gamble House in Pasadena, the Edwin Hubble House in San Marino, and the Upton Sinclair House in Monrovia.

Caruso has sought to build support for the Shops at Santa Anita by associating his project with a revitalization of the track. Buttons supporting the mall read "YES Santa Anita," and Caruso advertising has shown racing images.

Westfield has released polling data showing that those residents who are most protective of the racetrack are also the most hostile to Caruso's project. Neither Caruso nor Magna would comment Wednesday on Westfield's action.

News from the Public Transportation Front

As traffic gets more unbearable each year, there’s some great news coming from the city regarding 2 major project: Phase I of the Expo Line and the extension of the Red Line.
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Culver City Paves Way for Light Rail PlansBy
JUSTIN SCOTT, The Independent Staff Writer 22.NOV.

Council OKs resolution in a heated meeting packed by local residents.It’s been over 50 years since Culver City has seen any type of rail transit to downtown Los Angeles — which probably explains why Monday night’s city council’s discussion of the creation of light rail caused such an uproar.

In an overwhelming turnout, over 100 residents showed up for Monday’s City Council meeting, with representatives for Rep. Susan Watson, Councilman Herb Wesson and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa among those in attendance.After nearly three hours of discussion among councilmembers and residents, the council voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution that transmitted an official response to the MTA board regarding the Final Environmental Impact Report— effectively making way for an approval of a series of different ground level station options, the most likely being a station located at the intersection of Wesley and National boulevards.

While Monday’s vote did not constitute an approval of any project by the council, it did set the stage as to which of the five available station design options the council preferred, and sent recommendations to the MTA.Four of the five councimembers, without councilman Alan Corlin, voiced their approval of a temporary ground level station near the end of Wesley street - about 100 yards away from the MTA’s previously preferred option located between Venice and Robertson.

According to MTA plans, the temporary station would be used until the second phase of the project, which would allow for the creation of an above ground station, as well as the extension of the rail to Santa Monica. While the other councilmembers favored the temporary option, Corlin argued that approval of a temporary station lacked the foresight needed by the council to guarantee that the MTA would one day extend the light rail to the coast.“The Wesley station has got to be the worst idea ever,” said Corlin.“The numbers say there might not be funding available for further expansion in the future, and if you’re going to build this line, we have to do it the right way.”

While the environmental report did include an above ground station option, representatives from MTA could not promise the available funds for the creation of such a station during the initial phase of construction. According to the environmental report, the ground level “interim” station would be in use for somewhere between five and ten years.District representative Charles Stewart, however promised that congresswoman Watson would fight for the necessary funding to create the above ground station when that period was up.“Let’s not loose the momentum we’ve got so far,” he said. “Councilwoman Watson is committed to fighting for more funding, and she will not let the proposed subway extension take away that funding, even if she has to fight Waxman herself.”

Many Culver City residents expressed frustration, however, saying they felt their had not been given equal say to residents of Cheviot Hills, which sits north west of Culver City. Members of the Cheviot Hills community have protested the extension of the light rail through their city, without which would block plans to extend the potential line to Santa Monica.“Where are the riders coming from?” questioned resident Clint Simmons. “What happens if it doesn’t happen in five to ten years? It doesn’t look like we’re going to get past Cheviot Hills, and if it is not initially designed to continue to the beach, then will it ever?”

Others argued that if the city council rejected the provisions set forth in the environmental report, that the project would be sidelined indefinitely.“Traffic keeps getting worse, and it will continue,” said resident Kevin Clout. “It’s be wonderful if we could avoid traffic going to other areas like Baldwin park and to the coast, but we can’t. The longer we wait, the worse it will get.”Many concerns were more pressing. Joy Ellwell, who lives on the 3500 block of Wesley —right near where the proposed station would be placed - argued that an at grade rail line would cause heavy traffic that could impede police and rescue units.“Earlier this week I had to have an ambulance come to my house, and it only took nine minutes,” she said. “I don’t know how long it would have taken to get to my house if the (at grade) light rail had been put through.”
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Westside Subway to Be Built in Three StagesTransportation
By Alice Walton,Special to the Independent

A report that the Westside subway extension can be built safely under Wilshire Boulevard has left Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “ecstatic,” but now facing a campaign to get construction approved.At the same time, the mayor’s office said extending the Metro Red Line to the Pacific Ocean would happen in three phases, with the line extending first to Fairfax Avenue, then to the Westwood area and finally to Santa Monica.As expected, an independent peer review panel said last week it is safe to tunnel under Wilshire Boulevard.

The American Public Transportation Association's five-member panel told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Executive Management and Audit Committee that new technology would make it possible to tunnel in an area where methane was once a safety concern.According to the panel's presentation, “it is possible to tunnel and operate a subway along the Wilshire Corridor safely. By following proper procedures and using appropriate technologies, the risk would be no greater than other subway systems in the U.S.''The panel's final report will be presented to the board next week, said MTA spokesman Rick Jager.

The Metro Red Line, which runs from downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood, is prevented from extending past Western Avenue because of a federal ban initiated by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, in 1985.Waxman said tunneling was dangerous because of possible methane explosions. “His concern about it has always been the safety aspect,” said Waxman aide Pat Delgado. “We're waiting to see the official report. If it's safe to tunnel, then they will move to lift the restriction.”“We're just hoping we can get the ban lifted,'” said Darryl Ryan, a mayoral spokesman.But even if the federal ban is lifted, MTA board members will have to vote on whether to move forward with the project because the Metro Red Line is no longer a part of its long-range transportation plan.With the success of the new Metro Orange Line, Ryan said he does not anticipate a problem with support for the project.

“We're receiving a lot of support now that the Orange Line is complete,” Ryan said. “Obviously we have to work together.”A bigger problem, however, could be funding for the project. One subway mile costs about $350 million to construct.A 1998 initiative sponsored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky barred the use of county sales tax money for subway projects.The MTA board passed the motion only after city officials from Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica expressed support for the project, LaBonge said.Alice Walton is a reporter for City News Service.

From the Archive: The Closing of Bonwit Teller

First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day!

Tomorrow is the start of the 2005 shopping season. For many of the the May Department Stores (Robinsons-May, Filene's, Foley's....) this will be their last:0(

Below is an article that I clipped from the LA Times in 1985. It detailed the closing of Bonwit Teller, one of the most prestigious name in retailing. Though the article only talked about the closure of the BH location, it was a telltale sign of thing to come. About a year later, the last California store in Palm Desert was sold to Bullocks-Wilshire. Then in 1990, its flagship store at Trump Tower was shuttered and replace by Gallerie Lafayette (a French department store) which eventually was replaced by NikeTown.

I am sad that I never got a chance to visit any of the Bonwit Teller stores. If anyone has, please share.
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BONWIT TELLER CLOSING BEVERLY HILLS STORE
By Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer

Bonwit teller is closing its specialty clothing store in Beverly Hills because it has been losing money despite its glamorous location on Rodeo Drive.

Orren Knauer, a spokesman for Allied Stores, the parent of Bonwit Teller, said Wednesday that the company was closing the store because it had been losing money, but he declined to say how much. However, the store is said to have lost $1 million last year on sales in the $10-million range, according to published reports.

Though the store is situated at the corner of South Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Blvd—among the nation’s most prestigious shopping addresses—it suffered from several less obvious disadvantages, the company said. For example, parking was severely limited and the design of the store made it difficult to display merchandise attractively.

Bonwit Teller considered relocating to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa but decided against it because the costs were too high, the company said. The company said it is looking to expand in the Midwest and East. It plans to remain in Southern California, where it has a store in Palm Desert, near Palm Springs.

When the Beverly Hills store closes on Jan 3, Bonwit Teller will have 14 stores left in its chain. Its parent, Allied Stores, was recently acquired by Campeau Corp., a Canadian real estate concern. The closing of the Beverly Hills store was unrelated to the Allied acquisition, the company said.