The Imaginary Landscape

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.
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.
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.
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.”

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.

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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Southern California Shopping Experience

Larry and a panel of experts discuss holiday shopping trends, the consolidation of large department stores, old vs. new styles of retailing, and other retail issues. Larry talks with Jack Kyser, Chief Economist Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, Joan Storms, Research Analyst of hard line specialty retailers for Wedbush Morgan Securities, James Ellis, Associate Professor of Clinical Marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, and Janet LaFevre, Sr. Marketing director for Glendale Galleria.

H&M Madness

The beginning of the holiday shopping season is only a day away and one of the hottest retailer right now is H&M. The Sweden based company sells ultra trendy rags as rock bottom prices. Judging by the lines from the San Francisco grand opening (first on the west coast), they will certainly do very well out here. In fact, I know of some people who are making a special trip up north just to shop at H&M this winter.

The article below hints at a possible LA location soon. But after further investigation, the first SoCal location might be in Anaheim.


Style for a steal Fashionable, inexpensive H&M opens in San Francisco
Pia Sarkar, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, November 19, 2005

H&M unveils its much-awaited West Coast flagship store today on Powell Street in San Francisco after construction crews worked around the clock to make sure it opens on time.
A long line of excited fashionistas wrapped around the block Thursday night to get a sneak peek of the company's new store. Today, H&M opens the doors to its 35,000-square-foot Powell Street store to everyone. A second smaller store, with 10,000 square feet of space, is also opening today a few blocks away on Post Street.

Known for its stylish apparel and low prices, the Swedish company opened its first stores in the United States five years ago. The company's chief executive officer, Rolf Erickson, called the move "a dream come true."

"We've been thinking about it for 25 years," he said on Thursday as H&M employees rushed around the Powell Street store to tie up loose ends.

H&M was established in 1947, with a large push in Europe. Germany is its biggest market to date, followed by Sweden and the United Kingdom. The company has more than 1,000 stores spread across 20 countries.

H&M took the leap into the United States after opening its first store in Paris in 1998. "When we succeeded there, we were ready for the U.S.," Erickson said.

The company now has 91 stores in the United States, 16 of which were built this year. Sanna Lindberg, U.S. manager for H&M, said the company chose San Francisco for its West Coast flagship store 2½ years ago in part because of the city's European feel. "There's more of a city center here," Lindberg said.

Lindberg added that the company does not plan to differentiate the look and feel of its clothing lines in the United States from Europe. "I think it's important that people recognize it all over the world," she said.

As for H&M's future in California, Lindberg and Erickson chose not to make any official announcements, but Erickson offered a strong hint.

"We won't tell you the next big city but it's close to San Francisco and it starts with an L," Erickson said with a smile, referring to Los Angeles


GardenWalk project revived in Anaheim

BY KIMBERLY EDDS and SARAH TULLY The Orange County Register

ANAHEIM - Developers hope tourists visiting Anaheim's GardenWalk will see Roy's and the Elephant Bar as upscale dining and entertainment alternatives in the Disneyland Resort district.
Local shoppers, they say, will have an open-air spot to browse in chic boutiques and trendy clothing stores.

Meanwhile, city officials are looking at GardenWalk as a source for millions of dollars in tax revenue.

With lease negotiators working on deals with sought-after retailers such as H&M, Hollister and Banana Republic and restaurants such as Bar Louie, the new developers of the 19.3-acre, 60-store Anaheim GardenWalk are hoping to finally bring to a close the saga of the project, which has languished for nearly seven years, leaving passers-by wondering what was to become of the fenced-off vacant lot just east of Disneyland's main gates.

Construction is expected to begin in May with stores opening in October 2007. The first of three proposed hotels, from 11 to 13 stories high, and a 400-unit timeshare could be completed by mid-2008. Two more hotels could be built by 2010, for a total of 1,200 new hotel rooms in the complex.

Located in an area made up largely of motels and souvenir shops between Disneyland and a possible third Disney theme park, developers of GardenWalk hope it will fill the needs of those looking for a unique shopping and dining experience, said William Stone, senior vice president of development for Excel Realty Holdings LLC of San Diego, one of three companies in the joint venture.

"Any day you see people walking and walking around Disneyland, but there aren't so many people walking on Katella because what are they going to walk to? We're hoping to change that," Stone said.

Tourists trekking along Katella Avenue welcomed the idea of having somewhere to walk to after a visit to the Magic Kingdom or the Convention Center.

"You basically go high end with the shops at Downtown Disney or you're immediately dropped down to the level of 7-Eleven and Subway," said Ryan Rapier, a salesman visiting with his family from Arizona.

Fashion-forward clothiers including Banana Republic, ALDO Accessories, White House/Black Market and Ann Taylor Loft are in negotiations to reserve a spot.

Deals with restaurants including the Elephant Bar, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and McCormick & Schmick are in the works, Stone said. A movie theater is a possibility.

Designed to have a contemporary Tuscan and French Normandy flair, GardenWalk will feature three landscaped garden plazas and lush landscaping throughout, Stone said. With about 400,000 square feet of retail space, GardenWalk is about one-third of the size of Westminster Mall.

"The area around Disneyland is turning into an urban version of Disney World," Stone said. "What is spread over miles in Orlando is being compressed into a couple blocks around Disneyland."

Contracts with most of the tenants should be signed off by the beginning of the year. GardenWalk's proposed changes are expected to go before the Planning Commission in February.

Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, said GardenWalk is part of a resurgence in the resort area in the past five years with the opening of Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney, street beautification and the expansion of the Convention Center.

"This creates a greater diversity of entertainment, whether you live here or visit here. I think everybody has been waiting for something like this," Ahlers said.

Disney, which originally opposed the project, now supports GardenWalk, and talks are under way to have a Disney Store in the complex.

"We believe the Anaheim GardenWalk is an appropriate complement to the Anaheim Resort and would help enhance the appeal and vitality of this important tourist destination," said Jennifer Liu, a Disney spokeswoman.

GardenWalk is part of Anaheim's rapid revitalization but not every project has panned out. Plans for the $150 million Gotcha Glacier - with areas for snowboarding, surfing and rock climbing - fell by the wayside four years ago after developers failed to get financing for the indoor-sports- themed venue in the Platinum Triangle area.

Developer Price Legacy originally tackled the project in the late-'90s, removing the area's aging motels and Melodyland theater. But Price Legacy suffered financial setbacks after 9/11 and GardenWalk stalled.

Originally named Pointe Anaheim, Price Legacy was in litigation with the owners of an 8.8-acre plot of land across from Disneyland's main entrance, hoping to garner street-front access along Harbor Boulevard and bump up the complex to 29.1 acres.
GardenWalk's new owners have decided not to pursue the disputed land, scaling the project down to 19.3 acres and leaving the complex without a Harbor Boulevard entrance.
With street visibility off of Katella and Disney Way - used by a combined 38,000 cars a day - Stone said GardenWalk should attract the necessary attention: "I think the location is good and it's just gotten better and better over time."

With many of the proposed shops, such as Gap and Chicos nearby, shopping-center analyst Greg Stoffel of Gregory Stoffel & Associates in Irvine said GardenWalk will have to rely heavily on tourist dollars to survive.
According to a CB Richard Ellis report released in March, the 43 million visitors to the Disneyland Resort area spend $1 billion outside the park annually. An estimated 10 million people are expected to make their way to GardenWalk a year, Stone said.

Layout of the Complex

Westside Too/Landmark Theatre Expansion...What's Going On?

Westside Too is, of course, the very dead part of the Westside Pavilion. It’s located west of the main mall, via a sky bridge, over Westwood Blvd (the view is quite nice BTW). But since its debut, it was never able to draw anyone from the original “Westside”.

I was actually there for the 1991 grand opening and I still have the original directory to prove it. Does anyone remember Boogies Diner? It’s the “hip” clothing shop w/a diner—what a concept. It was located on the ground floor where Barnes & Noble is now.

Anywho, the 40 or so store that opened in 91 dwindled to only a handful a couple of years later. It was around 95 that I first heard of a proposal by the Landmark Theatre Group to build what was to be the largest arthouse in the world. It would have had 16 screens and all stadium seatings.

Flash forward to March 15, 2003, the mall owner, Macerich and Landmark made an official announcement about the project. This time, however, then number of screens was reduce to 14 and none would be stadium style. Even with the reduction in the number of screens, it still will be the largest theatre dedicated to indie/foreign films.

They projected ground breaking in fall of 03 and completion of fall of 04. Then they just kept pushing things back and back and back. The last I heard, construction should start in fall of 05. I refuse to go back there until I see any constructions. So, if someone is reading this, can you let me know if they have actually broken ground.


Westfield Century City--What Could Have Been

As Westfield is set to debut it's new second level, the "alfresco-style dining terrace", and the AMC Century 15 flagship theatre, I think it would be interesting to see what would have happened had the mall never changed hands.

I found some information on www.tract about a proposed expansion plan for the mall by the previous owner, Urban Retail Properties. Some of their proposals were not surprising, like a new AMC. But they also had planned to replace the old Dive restaurant with a new Wolfgang Puck eatery and a TV studio!


Gelson’s Relocation, AMC Movies Galore Planned for Mall

The recent purchase of the Century City Shopping Center by Urban Retail Properties, a group consisting of many of the principals behind the proposed 32 story Century City hi-rise, Constellation Place, has brought about a flurry of activity at the shopping center.

According to the shopping center’s new general manager David R. Froelke, Gelson’s, whose lease has come due, has been working on an agreement with the new owners of the shopping center and apparently will remain. However, to the delight of long suffering Fox Hills residents who complain about noise from delivery trucks, the up-scale supermarket might move to a new mall location.

Urban contemplates building a new structure to house Gelson’s on what Urban management jokingly calls the grassy knoll, the undeveloped section of the shopping center adjacent to Santa Monica Boulevard. Although the new Gelson’s would have approximately the same square footage as the old one, a more efficient design would allow the market to expand its bakery, deli, and floral section without losing any space for the rest of its merchandise. Urban also is considering the long time desire of AMC Theatres to expand. One possible location for new theatres would be above the shops adjacent to AMC and facing Century Park West.

Other Locations
Other possible locations being considered include the space now occupied by Gelson’s as well as the southwest section of the mall, which currently is mostly unoccupied but which once housed Bob’s Big Boy, Hallmark Cards, and Baskin and Robbins.

Still another plan under consideration would house the theatres on the second floor of a new building with retail stores at ground level.

Square Footage
The theatres now occupy 50,000 square feet. With an additional 25,000 square feet added to that total, the number of AMC screens could increase from the current 14 to anywhere from 16 to 21 theatres. The new theatres would feature state of the art sound and projection equipment including digital projection as well as stadium seating.

Wolfgang Puck
In addition, Froelke says, a new and elaborate Wolfgang Puck’s will probably move into the space that was the submarine-shaped Dive restaurant. Puck hopes to create a TV studio on the second floor of the restaurant, where he could give interviews and conduct cooking classes.
Urban also currently is working with consultants on plans aimed at improving walking patterns within the shopping center.

Physical Changes
The plans might require physical changes to some of the shopping center structures and even demolition of others.

Urban would like to demolish the building that houses Gelson’s. If it does, it would move Crate and Barrel and other stores located on the mall level of the Gelson’s building to the old Bob’s Big Boy area. A new building might be constructed in the leveled space for a new department store.
The row of shops where Fox Photo is located could be moved to other housing on the mall to make room for increasing the size of the center court.

In the meantime, Urban has instituted what it believes is an improved valet parking for the shopping center. It says that the time it takes to pick up a car in the valet parking area has been cut down. It also has changed the valet attendants’ uniforms. Valet parkers now wear black slacks, Mandarin shirts, and silk teal blue vests.

One other change already is in place. Under Froelke’s direction, almost every corner of the center has been re-landscaped. Tired looking shrubbery has been given a face lift, and a new flower display has been added. At the entrance to the Gelson’s parking lot, a whole new line of flowers greets customers parking their cars.

A Glimpse of the New Topanga Nordstrom

Though the store is thousands of miles away from LA, I think the new Nordstrom in Dallas offers a glimpse of what we can expect when the 203,000 sq ft Nordstrom opens at Westfield Topanga in Fall 2006. The store is almost identical in size and I assume that the Topanga location will include some of the ammenities below.
Nordstrom Opening Draws a Crowd
12:26 PM CST on Friday, November 11, 2005

......NorthPark Nordstrom offers a full-service spa, an after-hours restaurant and bar and, of course, a shoe department. Lured by refreshments, makeovers and the promise of legendary footwear, hundreds of eager shoppers on Friday packed into the newly opened Nordstrom at NorthPark Center mall. The department store, which shares space in the west wing with competitor Neiman Marcus, anchors a major portion of the mall's expansion.......