The Imaginary Landscape

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

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.

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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

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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.

LEASE NEGOTIATIONS
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.

RESORT AREA RESURGENCE
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.

GARDENWALK HISTORY
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."

VISITOR DOLLARS
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

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