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Apr 26, 2007, 2:29 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tesco to open six O.C. units
The British retailer's "Fresh & Easy" grocer will focus on healthy foods, and grab-and-go meals for time-starved shoppers.
The Orange County Register


British retailer Tesco has tripled the number of fresh express grocery stores it plans for Orange County.

Early Wednesday, Tesco – whose reputation in Europe rivals that of Wal-Mart in the United States – said it plans to open at least 100 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets in the U.S. by February 2008. Among those will be six stores planned for Fullerton, Laguna Hills, Orange, Anaheim, Buena Park and Huntington Beach, according to the state's Alcohol Beverage Control office in Santa Ana. Previously, only two Tesco locations in Orange County were known.

The extra Tesco stores slated for the county could give local shoppers a reason to abandon traditional supermarkets, particularly if there is a work stoppage or strike similar to the grocery industry labor dispute of four years ago. Representatives for supermarket owners and workers are meeting to discuss a new labor agreement, and both sides recently have indicated a strike or lockout is possible.

"I'd be worried if I were a big grocer. They are losing share because consumers can find food anywhere these days," said Marcia Mogelonsky, a grocery sector analyst at Mintel International in Chicago.

Tesco's arrival in Orange County will be matched statewide. The chain's "Fresh & Easy" brand has applied for a permit to sell beer and wine in 50 California cities, an ABC official said.

Officials for Tesco, which operates 2,800 stores throughout Britain, Europe and Asia, could not be reached for comment about its plans for Orange County. A spokeswoman for the city of Orange said Tesco will open by fall a grocery store at Main Street and Chapman Avenue. The site now includes a closed Good Guys electronics store and is across the street from a newly renovated Ralphs.

In a statement released today, Tesco said the 10,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy stores will sell healthy, fresh foods and prepared takeout meals at low prices. The small grocer would borrow from Tesco's successful "Express" units in Europe, which caters to consumers who shop in spurts.The Fresh & Easy format is about five times smaller than a traditional supermarket, but three times larger than a 7-11.

Mogelonsky said time-starved American consumers are ready for the European-style grocery format.

"Big grocers grew on the idea that moms weren't working, and so she had time to shop," said Mogelonsky. "People don't shop like that anymore. We don't have time."

Tesco said it will spend $400 million a year over the next five years as it expands its chain of smaller convenience stores in the U.S.

"The Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format is designed to draw customers back to their local neighborhoods by offering high quality, fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices," stated Tesco's chief executive Tim Mason.

The store details, released during a press conference today in Las Vegas, is the most information the British retailer has provided to the public since last year – when it announced plans to enter the U.S. market. In fact, Tesco has kept its U.S. invasion plans so close to the vest that earlier this year it told curious onlookers that a prototype store it was building in a California warehouse was a Hollywood set.

Industry analysts say Tesco's Fresh & Easy format creates a unique niche in the competitive grocery sector, combining the affordability and uniqueness of a Trader Joe's with the grab-and-go meal and delis options now being touted at most traditional grocers.

Still, no one knows how shoppers will embrace the British grocer, said Thomas Donato, director of supermarket research at Trade Dimensions in Connecticut.

"But no one is underestimating the threat it poses," he added.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Apr 27, 2007, 7:28 AM
^ They need to open up in Downtown LA, Old Town Pasadena, Downtown Santa Monica, Westwood Village, Hollywood, Koreatown, Sunset Strip, and Venice.

Apr 27, 2007, 2:52 PM
I'm pretty sure that they will open in all of these areas, especially considering the high demand for the type of products they carry. I have a feeling that TESCO will make its way into the downtown soon before Trader Joes ever wakes up and realizes that they should move down there. TESCO is not new to having stores in urban markets so I'm sure they have more up their sleeve

May 3, 2007, 1:22 AM
So Many Stores, So Little Time

If you thought keeping up with LA's newest eateries was a challenge, try making room in your wallet for all the retail establishments popping up lately.

West Third Street welcomes two new shops, Avita Co-op and Rodan vs. Griffith (pictured). Avita officially opens today and features sustainable fashion as well as vegan shoes. Rodan vs. Griffith is the brainchild of Pennsylvania natives Carol Rodan and Chris Griffith. Both their men's and women's lines are casual, comfortable and manufactured locally. More pics can be found here and here.

on La Brea is Publik Park, a community-based shop dedicated to young, up-and-coming design talent. Shoppers can try on looks by Sretsis and Jenny Han underneath the giant indoor tree.

Melrose Heights makes room for the feminine frocks by French line Diabless, which moved in next to Marc by Marc Jacobs. They'll both soon be joined by upcoming shops from Diesel (the flagship) and BCBG Max Azria. Check back for reviews on all these lovely stores.

May 11, 2007, 2:52 AM
Sure, the Orange Line has a stop right by the "Shoppingtown" (I really don't like that term), but the people that will be paying $14 for a hamburger aren't going to be taking transit, and the people that are taking transit aren't going to be paying $14 for a hamburger.

Well then I guess we have to educate the people to think differently about mass transit.

May 11, 2007, 5:35 AM
^ lol, when did I write that, like a year ago?

May 11, 2007, 11:02 AM
So Many Stores, So Little Time

If you thought keeping up with LA's newest eateries was a challenge, try making room in your wallet for all the retail establishments popping up lately.

West Third Street welcomes two new shops, Avita Co-op and Rodan vs. Griffith (pictured). Avita officially opens today and features sustainable fashion as well as vegan shoes. Rodan vs. Griffith is the brainchild of Pennsylvania natives Carol Rodan and Chris Griffith. Both their men's and women's lines are casual, comfortable and manufactured locally. More pics can be found here and here.

on La Brea is Publik Park, a community-based shop dedicated to young, up-and-coming design talent. Shoppers can try on looks by Sretsis and Jenny Han underneath the giant indoor tree.

Melrose Heights makes room for the feminine frocks by French line Diabless, which moved in next to Marc by Marc Jacobs. They'll both soon be joined by upcoming shops from Diesel (the flagship) and BCBG Max Azria. Check back for reviews on all these lovely stores.

That makes 3 Flagship Diesel stores (carrying exclusive items not found in any other Diesel stores) in the United States right? NYC, SF, and now LA? :tup:

May 11, 2007, 3:07 PM
Did I just read "vegan shoes"?

May 11, 2007, 7:34 PM
Yep three...or five since NY has, like, three of them. Vegan shoes as in no animals.

Also, our sister to the north has opened a DeBeers slowly closing the gap between the jewelry stores that are exclusively SoCal.

May 11, 2007, 9:48 PM
^ We still have Harry Winston, mimi so, Asprey, gucci jewelry, and that one high-end boutique coming from London on Rodeo Drive next to Dior Homme that I forgot the name of. I know I'm probably forgetting more.

May 12, 2007, 3:59 AM
Oh trust me, that's why I said slowly.
Here's a comprehensive list from a while back:
Mikimoto (BH, SCP, & Vegas)
Mimi So (BH)
Chopard (BH, SCP, & Vegas)
Van Cleef & Arpels (BH, SCP)
Harry Winston (BH & Vegas)
Breguet (BH)
Buccellati (BH)
Lalique (BH, SCP, & Vegas)
David Yurman

May 12, 2007, 4:09 AM
interesting. never realized that san fran doesnt have a david yurman

May 12, 2007, 4:34 AM
^He's probably scoping the area. I wouldn't doubt it.

May 12, 2007, 5:43 AM
Probably, considering he's opening a boutique in Austin this year. :D

May 16, 2007, 8:01 AM
Lambertson Truex's Retail Vision Becomes Reality

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

By Rachel Brown
LOS ANGELES — The luxurious, 2,000-square-foot space on Melrose Place here is retailing as Richard Lambertson and John Truex envision it, an oasis from gadgetry where sophisticated shoppers are treated as such.

Twin Launch for Rodan vs Griffith

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

By Victoria J. Chin
LOS ANGELES — Rodan vs Griffith, a locally manufactured men's and women's apparel brand launched last week, has opened its first retail location here.

May 16, 2007, 10:23 AM
^ OMG has Lambertson Truex actually opened!?

May 16, 2007, 6:49 PM
^ We still have Harry Winston, mimi so, Asprey, gucci jewelry, and that one high-end boutique coming from London on Rodeo Drive next to Dior Homme that I forgot the name of. I know I'm probably forgetting more.

Not sure if you mean Autore Pearls? they have a boutique on Rodeo, one of their 6 or 7 locations worldwide. They are Australian however.

May 16, 2007, 8:21 PM
I remember now! It's called "Graff - London." It was going to open up right next to Dior Homme. However, I recently passed by and did not see the Graff banner on the outside of the construction facade anymore? Then I was thinking that perhaps they are NO LONGER coming to Rodeo.

Also, since Miu Miu and Juicy Couture Worldwide Flagship are coming to Rodeo, where will those two be on Rodeo? Anyone know about these two questions? Bjornson? :)

Here's Graff's website: http://www.graffdiamonds.com/flash.php

May 17, 2007, 12:14 AM
I remember now! It's called "Graff - London." It was going to open up right next to Dior Homme. However, I recently passed by and did not see the Graff banner on the outside of the construction facade anymore? Then I was thinking that perhaps they are NO LONGER coming to Rodeo.

Also, since Miu Miu and Juicy Couture Worldwide Flagship are coming to Rodeo, where will those two be on Rodeo? Anyone know about these two questions? Bjornson? :)

Here's Graff's website: http://www.graffdiamonds.com/flash.php

If you look on their website (Graff's), they have an "opening soon" link and Beverly Hills or LA is not listed. It's weird because Chicago has a location and the Miami area has two. Hmmm...

Oh well, like shrek05 said, LA has Autore and, in fact, it's the only one in the U.S.

As to Miu Miu and Juicy, I have no clue. Nothing pops up. Juicy still doesn't have Malibu listed as a location yet on their website so that'll give you a clue on how they run things. Keep that in mind for Graff as well. Miu Miu is quite secretive.

May 17, 2007, 12:21 AM
Lambertson Truex's L.A. Sneak Peek
Touring the new Melrose Place shop

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

(LOS ANGELES) Richard Lambertson and John Truex threw open the doors on Tuesday to their new 2,200-square-foot store on Melrose Place—the duo’s most significant foray into retail to date in the company’s 10-year history. The two designers were on hand, as well as their new CEO Marcello Bottoli—who’s also the president and CEO of Samsonite, which heavily invested in the fashion brand last July. The funds allowed Lambertson and Truex to open the store, which was designed by New York-based architect Calvin Tsao of Tsao & McKown Architects.


“The store is very loft-like,” said Truex during a tour of the space on the eve of their official opening party. “It’s got four spaces that run concentrically in a vertical shape.” The first room is dubbed “The World of LT,” and is the display for the pair’s exotic skin bags and clutches, showcased in vitrines lined with their signature pale blue suede. “We were inspired by our own handbags,” said Lambertson, showing off a bronze pleated alligator clutch lined, of course, in the blue suede. One thing sure to be popular with their West Coast clients is the brand’s concept of a “twin set”—an evening clutch that fits into a matching tote bag for day. Another hot item: an egg-shaped clutch that comes in many colorations and fabrics, including a hot red satin and ring lizard.

The furniture in the store is a mix of custom pieces—complete with special “LT” print carpets on old-world feeling hardwood floors—and local antique shop finds in the form of tables and mirrors scattered throughout. The second room in the store is the men’s area, housing shoes, travel pieces, and briefcases. Right now, it’s stocked with spring goods, “but fall will be in the store in about six weeks,” said Truex. “We’re still in a transitional season right now.”

The third room is painted light blue and has a bold modern candelabra-like chandelier in the entrance, as well as an ottoman stacked with leather pillows and a leather center to rest against. This is where the women’s shoes reside—metallic flats, summer open work shoes with three-inch heels, and various spring clutches such as a raffia design encrusted with white coral. There are also plenty of details to note, including pullout panels, hidden mirrors, and shoe shelving in interlocking Ls and Ts for the designer’s initials.

The last room is the pair’s “Bespoke” quarters, now filled with a fall preview of bags and boots, including some in leopard and zebra skin. There is also a fall version in leather of the brand’s original first bag from their start in 1998, the “Boxcar bag.” The room also holds two glossy, black patent leather chairs created for Lambertson Truex by Duane Antiques in TriBeCa. There is also a large wooden table there for display, “but also for a VIP to have lunch and do some private shopping,” noted Lambertson. A screen can separate the fourth room from sight of the rest of the store.


Lambertson Truex joins an illustrious group of retailers that already call Melrose Place home. Other stores in the one-block strip right off La Cienaga Boulevard include Oscar de la Renta, Marni, Carolina Herrera, and Marc Jacobs.

Meanwhile, the designers have plenty to think about. “While we’re here,” said Lambertson, “we’re sketching fall, thinking about spring, and also involved with the opening of our [2,200-square-foot] Madison Avenue store at 62nd Street across from Hermès in September. In another year, we hope to open two or three more locations.” In fact, seven to eight more stores are currently in the planning stages, in such locations as Chicago, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, customers started to flock into the store, happy to meet the designers. “Good thing they didn't come earlier," said Truex. "They would have seen Calvin Tsao—who also teaches at Harvard—scraping tiny bits off the floor. This is our baby, and we are nurturing every inch of her!”

May 17, 2007, 7:34 PM
That looks like a beautiful store! Melrose place keeps on bringin them in. I'm curious to see what other retailers will move into this area.

May 28, 2007, 4:38 PM
7 for All Mankind

Such technicalities aside, most consider 7, headquartered at 4440 E. 26th St., to be the first of the L.A. premium denim brands to stoke the demand for higher-priced pants. The label launched in 2000 after denim designers Michael Glasser and Jerome Dahan brought their concept for high-end jeans focusing on fit, fabric and washes to financial backer Peter Koral. The result has captured the attention (and dollars) of the denim-buying masses to the tune of $300 million in annual sales and ranking among the top-selling brands nationwide.

Fittingly, after seven years, the company's first stand-alone retail store is slated to open at Robertson Boulevard and Alden Drive in L.A. in November.

May 30, 2007, 7:38 AM
Theory Now open: Last week the sleek brand that can be worn for just about any occasion opened a free-standing boutique on Melrose Avenue (Theory also has stores in Century City and South Coast Plaza). 8424 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 782-0163. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sun., noon to 6 p.m.

Tahari Grows Big Time at Saks Beverly Hills

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
By Emili Vesilind
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Elie Tahari and Saks Fifth Avenue here have launched the retailer's largest in-store boutique for a bridge brand.

Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, said the retailer was in talks to launch more large-format Elie Tahari shops in locations that he didn't specify.

"It's an extremely important business for us….We have very high expectations, Frasch said. "[The shop] will make the brand one of the most high-volume brands for ready-to-wear in the Beverly Hills store."

The 5,000-square-foot Elie Tahari boutique, designed by Milan architectural firm Lissoni Associati, also is the biggest in-store location for the New York label.

Without providing figures, founder Elie Tahari said he expected business would "double or even triple" with the expanded space, which opened last Wednesday in the store on Wilshire Boulevard. The brand previously had a small area in the bridge/contemporary department.

"This is something that changes the business dramatically, when you have your own store," Tahari said, adding that Saks was his company's largest account. The label also is carried by Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

"Saks is investing in Elie Tahari and supporting us, and we feel that we want to do the same for them," Tahari said.

The 260,000-square-foot Beverly Hills store been renovated in the last year, and the redo included the overhaul of four designer in-store shops: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Gucci.

"The real estate and location indicated that we could do one great installation," Frasch said. "Because we were already renovating, it allowed us to move quickly."

Frasch added that company executives had been discussing the dangers of in-store shops becoming too big, but he maintained that the Tahari business in Beverly Hills, which he characterized as "very, very large," warranted the extra space. "I do think shops can become too big," Frasch said. "We measure things on productivity and sales per square foot. We are very cautious about how we do shops in our store environment. Do they lose their intimacy when they become too big? These are discussions that are taking place."

Neither Frasch nor Tahari would comment on the price tag of the project, although Elie Tahari spearheaded its design and tailored the environment to complement Saks' sleek, uncluttered look.

"It was designed with the Saks image and customer in mind," Tahari said.

Located on the contemporary-focused fourth floor, the Tahari shop is almost self-contained, featuring a dedicated entrance that leads into a small foyer flanked by transparent glass shelving. A subdued color palette of gray, cream and white defines the shop, which is rectangular with smaller rectangular enclaves built out to display subcollections of merchandise.

Crystal chandeliers hang from the white ceiling, which is dotted with recessed lighting. A 60-foot-long, backlit wall of carved translucent Corian evokes a series of larger-than-life floral vines. A dramatic, Baroque-inspired white table wraps around one of the shop's three cash counters. A low, white credenza runs half the length of the store, featuring see-through glass pockets filled with folded apparel and accessories. Four dressing rooms have three-way mirrors and bronze racks and purse stands.

Elie Tahari launched a special, 12-piece line of eveningwear for the shop, including a halter-neck gown and a sequined top and dress, priced from $200 to $1,600. The shop also carries the full collection, which is priced from around $68 for a simple tank to about $500 for classic peacoats and cropped embroidered jackets.

The brand operates five stores, in New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Atlanta and East Hampton, N.Y. Tahari said the new shop-in-shop doesn't preclude the opening of a freestanding Elie Tahari store in Los Angeles. The label recently came close to signing a lease here, but the deal fell through. "We're back to square one," Tahari said. "If we have a good opportunity to have a flagship in L.A. on a street [such as] Rodeo Drive or Melrose Place, we'll do it."

Jun 6, 2007, 7:34 PM
A very quiet British invastion
Tesco ambitiously lays the groundwork here for a different type of grocery store.
By Jerry Hirsch, Times Staff Writer
June 6, 2007

A new chain of mid-size grocery stores — each about the size of a Trader Joe's — is quietly being readied for a full-scale assault this fall on Southern California.

With little fanfare so far, Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, is spending as much as $2 billion to launch Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, starting in the Southland, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Tesco, with more than $80 billion in annual sales, already operates in 13 countries and has about 370,000 employees.

The company already has about 100 stores in the works that might alter the supermarket landscape, possibly driving down prices and competing for workers, all at neighborhood locations away from huge shopping centers.

Traditional supermarkets have the most to lose, said Mohan Sodhi, a UCLA-trained management professor at City University in London, because the Fresh & Easy stores "will be closer to your home and easier to get into and out of."

"The U.S. is known as a graveyard for U.K. companies who have gone there and failed," he said. "But Tesco has gone against the grain to go into California."

Competitors recognize the threat and are working to blunt the attack. "We don't exactly know what they are going to do in their stores," Michael Schlotman, chief financial officer of Ralphs parent Kroger Co., recently told investors. "But you can rest assured" that the chain is "strategizing on exactly what kind of a reaction we need."

Preparations for the launch come as Southern California's major supermarket companies are locked in negotiations over a new contract with the grocery workers union. The union hopes to organize Fresh & Easy workers, but Tesco says it's too early to discuss its labor strategy.

It says it will offer competitive wages and benefits, including healthcare coverage and a retirement savings plan for employees who work at least 25 hours a week.

The first stores are expected to open in late October or early November. The company plans to offer a selection of foods, liquor and personal items and create about 2,500 jobs over the next year. But don't expect the British firm to stock hometown favorites such as sausage rolls, creamed tapioca and Yorkshire pudding.

Offerings at Fresh & Easy will be "less processed" than most packaged food, said Simon Uwins, Tesco's chief marketing officer. "We won't use artificial colors, artificial flavors and added trans fats." And the company won't sell cigarettes.

Leases have been signed, vendors have been enlisted and liquor licenses have been applied for, but this has been a hush-hush operation for months.

Tesco has a prototype store hidden in a Hawthorne warehouse where it tests new ideas and products. But there's no name on the building. It is tucked away in a gritty industrial area, and the windows are sealed with blinds and reflective material to make it impossible to see what's going on inside.

A mammoth warehouse under construction in Riverside is perhaps the clearest indicator of just how vast this operation is.

A tiny paper sign, barely visible from the road alongside the I-215 freeway in Riverside, points the way to ground zero for Tesco. No other markings advertise what's going on behind the chain-link fence at this address, but it's impossible to miss.

On a parcel larger than Disneyland, the retailer is building an 820,000-square-foot distribution center that will feed hundreds of Fresh & Easy stores in central Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas. This depot contains a freezer bigger than almost two football fields and a refrigerator twice that size.

The stores — each with about 10,000 square feet of selling space — will offer a carefully chosen selection of meats, produce, wine, packaged goods, dairy items and prepared meals "designed for people to do their regular shopping," said Tesco's Uwins.

The Fresh & Easy stores will stock about 3,000 products, a much smaller selection than what's found in a traditional supermarket. A larger supermarket might offer 10 brands of soap, but Fresh & Easy will have just a couple.

Instead of large tables of apples and other produce, fruit and vegetables will be displayed in rows of smaller bins.

The heart of each store will be an area that Fresh & Easy is calling the "Kitchen Table." It will function like a food information desk. Customers will be encouraged to stop and chat with employees trained to answer questions.

Prepared food, meals people can grab on their way home from work, will be a major part of the formula. "If we are successful we will get multiple trips each week," Uwins said.

The company has also pledged to open locations in all parts of Southern California, including poorer areas often shunned by traditional grocers.

Tim Mason, chief executive of El Segundo-based Tesco USA, has remained mum about many details because he knows established rivals are watching carefully. But Tesco started planning its assault two years ago.

The company identified 60 families in target markets who were willing to talk about and demonstrate their shopping habits.

"We went shopping with them, we prepared meals for them, they kept logs for us," Uwins said. "What they told us was that they want fresh but affordable food."

The company then built its secret mock-up in Hawthorne of what the new concept would look like.

But the company has tried to keep the location secret and is quick to shoo away visitors who discover the site, out of fear that competitors would sneak a peak. "We want our customers to be the first to see what we are doing," Uwins said.

The stores are being designed to use less electricity. Windows will be placed to provide more natural light. The air flow on the refrigeration units is being modified to reduce power consumption by 10%.

Outside signage and freezer lighting will rely on energy-efficient bulbs. Shipping and packing materials will be either recycled or reused. The Riverside distribution center will have 500,000 square feet of solar panels, costing $13 million.

Already, Vons owner Safeway Inc. is warning its employees that if Fresh & Easy takes off, it could mean "fewer hours in our stores and perhaps fewer employees, too."

Steve Burd, Safeway's CEO, said in a recent conference call with investors that he wasn't surprised by the natural and ecological approach Tesco is employing in its effort to quickly gain market share in the West.

Safeway plans to push its own credentials. It is remaking many of its Vons stores in Southern California to fit its "Ingredients for Life" campaign. It has greatly increased its offerings of organic products and prepared foods, while adding hardwood floors and track lighting to make its markets more attractive.

"As things like organics and eating right and other things become more important to consumers," Burd said, "we intend to be ready."

Jeff Noddle, CEO of Albertsons parent Supervalu Inc., told investors he believed that Fresh & Easy will touch everyone in the food business. "I think they're going to be as much competition for fast food and restaurants as they are for supermarkets and certainly for convenience stores."


Jun 7, 2007, 9:48 AM

^ 617 W. 7th Street (the big empty space at 7th and Hope St.) is the PERFECT location for a F&E! It's centrally located on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare that is equi-distant from Bunker Hill and South Park.

Jun 7, 2007, 5:10 PM
^ But there will be a Dean & Deluca katty corner to this at the Brockman and a Ralph's Fresh Fare two blocks away. I think that might be too much grocery density for downtown, at least for the next few years. I'd rather see a Barnes & Noble go in that space.

Jun 7, 2007, 6:02 PM
im with you Cole, i would love a barnes and Noble there, that would be perfect use of that space.

Jun 7, 2007, 7:17 PM
Oh man, B&N or Borders would be AWESOME for that space! Although it won't happen there, we need something like that in downtown badly. I'm expecting a large bookstore in either Grand Ave or Fig Central. One day... :(

Colemonkee, is there going to be an actual Dean & Deluca in the Brockman, or just a Dean & Deluca-type market? I'm happy for either... just curious.

Jun 7, 2007, 9:29 PM
^ It's listed as a Louis Restaurant & Gourmet Market, so it will be Dean & Deluca-like, not an actual Dean & Deluca. I could have sworn I saw the name Dean & Deluca last week on the Brockman site, but they've changed it around from last week and it's no longer listed. They've also added some more renders, including renders of the rooftop area with hot tub. Looks nice.

Jun 7, 2007, 10:12 PM
Book Soup just closed their location in South Coast Plaza which really pissed me off. They have a great product and would probably be more suited for the Downtown locals because they are not as big but they have a quality product. Book Soup, are you listening? I imagine South Coast Plaza rent was ridiculous.

Jun 7, 2007, 11:59 PM
Er, three grocery stores in South Park? How bout a 99 Ranch Market in Chinatown? I love that place...

Jun 8, 2007, 12:28 AM
Aren't there already going to be three grocery stores in South Park? Ralphs, a Dean & Deluca knockoff, and the Whole Foods at the Moinian Fig Central site.

Where they need a grocery store and none is planned is the Historic Core. I know that one little store on Main plans to expand, but he's got a long way to go to make that store attractive. One of those Tesco stores would go very well there.

Jun 8, 2007, 1:55 AM
Er, three grocery stores in South Park? How bout a 99 Ranch Market in Chinatown? I love that place...

there used to be a 99 ranch market in chinatown on the ground floor of the building where empress pavillion is. too bad it didn't make it.

Jun 8, 2007, 2:03 AM
Aren't there already going to be three grocery stores in South Park? Ralphs, a Dean & Deluca knockoff, and the Whole Foods at the Moinian Fig Central site.

Not really. The Whole Foods could still be 2+ yrs down the road, and South Park (downtown in general) will be a different place then, if it even happens. The Dean & Deluca-esque place is going to be in the Brockman on 7th St, not in South Park. I imagine that place will be a small market with limited offerings.

Jun 8, 2007, 5:23 AM
there used to be a 99 ranch market in chinatown on the ground floor of the building where empress pavillion is. too bad it didn't make it.

Thanks for pointing that out. I had actually looked on google maps for 99 Ranch Market and it has an "unverified listing" for one in chinatown. When I went by there, there was no market, so I searched the web and found out that it was there but closed in 1999. Yikes.

Jun 14, 2007, 1:17 AM
I haven't covered anything in a while. A bunch of new stores have opened in the region.

Starting with...one of my favorite brands:

A.P.C. Goes Coast to Coast
French retailer opens second U.S. store in L.A.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(LOS ANGELES) With recent retail openings from Oscar de la Renta, Louis Feraud, Diesel, and Presse on La Brea Avenue, the heads of Los Angeles’ fashion plates have been collectively spinning at breakneck speeds. Now French company A.P.C., founded by Jean Touitou in 1987, is entering the fray, with a 1,200-square-foot boutique on Croft Avenue in West Hollywood, a quiet side street that borders the wildly popular—and populated—Melrose Place. This is the French retailer’s second American space following Greene Street in New York’s SoHo, and the brand chose the city because, according to a company spokesperson, a large mail order clientele has developed in California and they want to keep up with demand. Plus, the company’s high-impact unwashed indigo denim and no-frills men’s and women’s collections fit right into L.A.’s daytime casual chic. A.P.C. will host an opening party this evening, but has remained tight-lipped on celebrity clients or attendees—but its close proximity to Marc by Marc Jacobs and Diesel should make it popular with the younger set. “I feel comfortable now opening a few stores in the U.S.,” offered Touitou. “I don’t want to explain my collections. This is not my task.”

Feraud and Gas Bijoux boutiques open
By Melissa Magsaysay, Times Staff Writer
June 11, 2007

Weeks after the entertainment industry landed on the shores of Cannes, two fashion companies based in the south of France opened the doors to their first West Coast boutiques, here in Los Angeles.

Feraud, the 57-year-old house founded by painter-turned-designer Louis Feraud, has set up shop on Brighton Way. Feraud is known for creating original prints inspired by the designers' artwork and also for having designed all four of Brigitte Bardot's wedding dresses. Très chic! Last Wednesday's opening party in the Beverly Hills store was filled with vibrant floral print dresses and subtle metallic knits, and the high society women who love them. The scene hinted that Feraud is something like the St. John of the south of France, with devotees oohing and aahing over prim pieces fitting for their summer social calendars.

The next night, in a more relaxed atmosphere, Gas Bijoux, a jewelry line based in St. Tropez, opened its West Hollywood boutique on Melrose Avenue. The collection of earrings, charm bracelets and a small ready-to-wear collection was started 35 years ago by the Gas family. Whimsical gold and enamel gypsy-style jewelry evokes careless romps on the sands of St. Tropez, though the brand name Gas is engraved on almost every charm and pendant. Tant pis!

Diesel's west coast flagship retail store opens this week on Los Angeles' Melrose Place—promising an experience entirely customized for its local clientele. The 3,500-square-foot space will house 90 percent of the brand's catwalk looks, the entire accessory range, and the relaunched Diesel Collection footwear line (which makes its first retail outing in the store). Departing from previous store models, the flagship pushes eco-friendly design and build, utilizing the existing fixtures and beams from the gutted building it inhabits. Don't miss the new Diesel Denim Gallery collection, also available first in the L.A. store.
Diesel, 8401 Melrose Place, Los Angeles. Go to www.diesel.com

Jun 14, 2007, 1:27 AM
Book Soup just closed their location in South Coast Plaza which really pissed me off. They have a great product and would probably be more suited for the Downtown locals because they are not as big but they have a quality product. Book Soup, are you listening? I imagine South Coast Plaza rent was ridiculous.

That really pissed me off as well. There were certain magazines that only Book Soup carried. Now I have to trek up to LA to get what I need. But really, did they expect good rent prices at a location where their neighbor is Versace? I would have hoped SCP would have understood the importance of a good indie bookstore and lower the rent.

Jun 15, 2007, 4:51 AM
I found out from a cashier at a Famima!! in downtown tonight that they're opening a location in the Wilshire/Vermont station development.

Jun 15, 2007, 7:19 AM
That really pissed me off as well. There were certain magazines that only Book Soup carried. Now I have to trek up to LA to get what I need. But really, did they expect good rent prices at a location where their neighbor is Versace? I would have hoped SCP would have understood the importance of a good indie bookstore and lower the rent.

I loveeeeeeeee Book Soup! Maybe a new location in the mall? Actually Book Soup took over Versace's space and guess what? Versace's opening back up in that space! Fall 2007.

Jun 16, 2007, 4:42 AM
Bjornson, do you post in any of the other LA threads besides this one?

Jun 16, 2007, 8:40 AM
Yes. Perhaps not in the specific "Los Angeles Area," but in the DT rundown, yes. If I didn't, then I wouldn't have my signature...

Jun 17, 2007, 4:26 AM
The Pinkberry empire making final preparations for its takeover of Little Toyko...



Jun 18, 2007, 6:11 AM
I am so sick of Pinkberry.

Jun 18, 2007, 6:15 AM
I know everyone hates Pinkberry now, but I still like it. I'm very happy to have one opening within walking distance to my apartment!

But in this particular instance, I think it will bring more life to that faded retail plaza on the south side of 2nd Street. Those businesses close too early! If just a portion of those shoppers who flock to the Japanese Village Plaza will just cross 2nd and go to the Japanese Cultural Plaza, I'll be happy because it will help the whole district.

Jun 18, 2007, 6:38 AM
Actually that faded plaza is busier than I can ever recall its been in the past. I was over there a few weeks ago during the day and it was quite active. Not just with asians, but whites, and to my surprise African Americans now.

Also anyone know whats up with imageshack? I posted a few pictures of Pinkberry and they deleted them. They have been deleting a lot of my photos, even some inside Union Station. I don't think I'm breaking any of their rules, such as advertising or such. :shrug:

If they keep this up, I looking elsewhere to host my photos. Hey I'm open for new sites to host, any suggestions?

Jun 28, 2007, 2:20 AM
Developer wins lease for Fisherman's Wharf
Under the deal, Edward M. Czuker will revitalize and operate the site at Channel Islands Harbor for up to 65 years.
By Catherine Saillant, Times Staff Writer
June 27, 2007

A Los Angeles developer won a long-term lease Tuesday for the long-neglected Fisherman's Wharf shopping center at Channel Islands Harbor in Ventura County and unveiled plans for a total overhaul of the property.

For years, the nautical-themed complex has stood as an eyesore at a busy intersection in south Oxnard, victim to poor management and political wars over redevelopment at the aging harbor. On Tuesday, however, the county Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to award developer Edward M. Czuker a lease to revitalize and operate the six-acre property for up to 65 years. The property is owned by the county's Harbor Department.

Czuker has developed more than $750 million worth of California real estate, harbor officials said, including a similar mixed-use complex in Marina del Rey.

The lease identifies two phases. In the first, Czuker has five years to obtain necessary permits from the county and the California Coastal Commission to redevelop the property.

His preference is to raze the property and start from scratch, possibly expanding onto four acres immediately south of Fisherman's Wharf. If that is not approved, he plans to rebuild the existing buildings from the ground up, harbor officials said.

In either case, the resulting center would be a mix of restaurants, shops, offices and apartments, said Harbor Director Lyn Krieger.

While gaining permits, Czuker must maintain the existing properties , possibly securing short-term restaurant tenants. He will pay the county a minimum rent of $50,000 a year, plus half of anything he earns from tenants above $100,000, according to the lease. Once permits are in hand, Czuker would be required to spend $20 million to rebuild the expanded wharf property or $10 million to redevelop the existing site.

If he cannot get permission to do either, Czuker must still spend $7 million to revitalize the existing Fisherman's Wharf. Czuker told supervisors that he planned to work collaboratively with the harbor's neighbors in drawing up blueprints for the new center.

Two other developers asked the Board of Supervisors to wait at least 30 days so they could submit their own proposals. But the majority of supervisors said they thought Czuker's was the best deal they could make, given the controversy that has surrounded any redevelopment at the harbor.

"The process was open and fair," said Supervisor Kathy Long, noting that six proposals had been debated by a harbor committee. "If this investor fails, we fail. This property has been decaying in front of our eyes for years and years."

Supervisor John Flynn was the sole dissenter. Flynn said the lease was too generous and could cost taxpayers money if the developer defaulted.

Jun 30, 2007, 10:40 PM
There is some news on this blog that Hard Rock Cafe will be opening at or near LA Live.


Jul 6, 2007, 12:50 PM
I just want to say that Melrose Place is definitely on its way to becoming the next shopping destination for designer seekers.

Within a comfortable walking distance, you have:

Marc Jacobs Women & Men
Marc by Marc Jacobs
Diesel Flagship Boutique
Helmut Lang (Opening Soon)
BCBG (Opening Soon)
Lambertson Truex
Diane Von Furstenberg
Oscar DeLa Renta
Carolina Herrera
Monique Lhullilier
Chloe (Opening Soon)

I can't wait to find out what else will be joining the pack! Bjornson? :)

Jul 6, 2007, 11:20 PM
I just want to say that Melrose Place is definitely on its way to becoming the next shopping destination for designer seekers.

It IS the shopping destination. Beverly Hills is for the tourists.

Jul 10, 2007, 8:42 AM
^ But there will be a Dean & Deluca katty corner to this at the Brockman and a Ralph's Fresh Fare two blocks away. I think that might be too much grocery density for downtown, at least for the next few years. I'd rather see a Barnes & Noble go in that space.

The only reason why I was excited to have Tesco go into that space is because I actually know that a bookstore won't be going in there. I worked with the people involved directly. I brought Barnes and Noble (the head of Real Estate out from Dallas) on a tour of Downtown LA. I also brought in Vroman's from Pasadena as well to take a look at that space and it never went through. I don't just make inane comments for the sake of making them (at least not all the time).

Jul 10, 2007, 8:54 AM
Looks like Shanghai Tang will be the next hip store (with a Chinese slant) to open up in LA (somewhere). This was dated in 2005, and at the time, Shanghai Tang was going to open up either in SF or LA, but it seems that there may be room for two on the West Coast in a more recent publication.



DECEMBER 1, 2005

News & Features
By Reena Jana

China Goes Luxury
The luxury-goods designer is seeing its sales rise smartly lately, thanks to an innovative use of traditional motifs

Slide Show >>China's first luxury brand hasn't had a smooth international ride. Launched in Hong Kong in 1994, Shanghai Tang opened a ritzy 12,500-square-foot New York flagship store on Madison Avenue in 1997, closed it less than two years later due to sluggish sales, and quietly relocated to a smaller location in 2001. But four years after the arrival of new CEO Raphael le Masne de Chermont and Creative Director Joanne Ooi, Shanghai Tang seems to be back on track.

While le Masne won't disclose figures, he says worldwide sales have grown 43% in the last year, and American sales (at boutiques in New York and Honolulu) are up 50%. Compagnie Financière Richemont -- the Swiss luxury goods company that bought a majority stake from founder David Tang in 1998 -- has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan (see BW, 7/21/03, "Richemont in a Rut"). In 2005, new stores opened in Zurich, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Bangkok.

Currently, two more, in Beijing and Milan, are set to open in 2006. "We expect to have 30 stores by the end of 2007," le Masne says. "Among the 10 boutiques we plan to open, I can say that four will be in China, and two will be in the U. S. -- starting in Las Vegas, and then either San Francisco or Los Angeles."

LUXURY BOOM. Shanghai Tang's success is due in part to the strength of the Asian market, which is responsible for 80% of the brand's sales. Parent company Richemont's latest annual report states that overall sales in Asia (outside of Japan) grew 20%, compared to 10% in Europe, 7% in the Americas, and 3% in Japan, for the fiscal year that ended in March. (The report notes that the SARS epidemic slowed sales in 2003-04, which could have contributed to such a dramatic spike the following year.)

And a 2005 Ernst & Young analysis of luxury-goods consumption estimates that sales in China will grow 20% annually from 2005 to 2008. By 2015, Ernst & Young predicts, China will overtake the U.S. as the world's second-highest consumer of luxury goods, after Japan.

But much of the credit for Shanghai Tang's turnaround also goes to Ooi, the former Asian sales and marketing director for high-end shoemaker Stephane Kélian. To reinvigorate the brand, Ooi set out to create bold design statements that combined Chinese cultural references and sleek, contemporary clothes -- while moving beyond cliched Mao-style jackets.

CHINESE AMBASSADOR. On a brisk November evening in the New York store, a parade of sylph-like models showcase Ooi's newest designs, which will hit stores in spring, 2006. The collection consists mainly of miniskirted versions of the qipao, a traditional Mandarin-collared dress, rendered in bright hues and emblazoned with patterns based on paintings by artists in Beijing.

"The goal is to be the ambassador of modern Chinese style," says Ooi, who's hard to distinguish from the models. Slim and statuesque at nearly six feet tall, she's as fashionably dressed as the young women wearing her designs. As the models walk silently among the fashion-show audience sipping chardonnay, Ooi shows off a binder filled with photographs of the artworks she commissioned by established Chinese contemporary artists and young art students to serve as inspiration for this collection. "I picked the topic because contemporary art embodies the tensions between old and new China," Ooi says.

"Each season, I choose a theme that the public isn't too aware of," Ooi explains. "I try to stay away from a pastiche of what Westerners think of as Chinese culture." Rather than scan fashion magazines, she does her research at art museums and reads books on period and regional histories. "There's a pedagogical aspect of Shanghai Tang," says Ooi. "People can appreciate the brand on many levels."

"SOFT POWER." One collection focused on Chinese calligraphy, and Ooi turned traditional characters from Mandarin and Cantonese into decorative patterns. Another set of clothes was inspired by the garments and jewelry worn for centuries by ethnic tribes in China's Hunan province. For yet another collection, Ooi reinterpreted the fur-lined clothing worn by Mongolian and Tibetan nomads. And Ooi based the autumn/winter 2005 collection on the Ming and Qing dynasties, drawing heavily on imperial symbols from the 14th to early 20th centuries, like the color yellow (a royal hue) and a five-clawed dragon (an icon worn only by emperors).

"People ask me, 'Don't you find always working with a Chinese theme limiting?'" Ooi says. "But our brand isn't just about referencing a dynasty every season. My only requirement is a Chinese silhouette, and fabric associated with China."

Now that the country currently possesses what economist Joseph Nye describes as "soft power," i.e., both economic and cultural cachet, Shanghai Tang could be tapping into newfound awareness of Chinese style. A-list celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Beyoncé have been photographed wearing East-meets-West clothing emblazoned with details like Chinese opera-mask motifs by Vivienne Tam, a Cantonese-born, Hong Kong-bred designer based in New York since 1983.

NATIONAL STYLE. But Ooi is quick to dismiss any association with trendiness. "We're not depending on zeitgeist. We're not the flavor of the month," she says.

The key for Shanghai Tang will be to follow in the tradition of established luxury labels associated with a specific national aesthetic. Labels like Armani, Gucci, Prada, Versace, and Fendi have long symbolized streamlined Italian style. Chanel embodies Parisian elegance. With its booming sales, Shanghai Tang has the chance to become the Chanel of China.

Jul 20, 2007, 1:36 AM
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wal-Mart plan on hot seat in Garden Grove
Packed house is expected at tonight's hearing, first official opportunity for public to air views on proposed superstore.

GARDEN GROVE - Residents and anti-Wal-Mart activists are expected to crowd the Garden Grove Community Meeting Center tonight for a Planning Commission hearing on a proposed two-story, 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter.

On June 15 the city released the draft environmental impact report for the 173,157-square-foot store at 9852 Chapman Ave., a 10.3-acre property west of Brookhurst Street. The store, with parking at the ground level and the store on the second story, would be open 24 hours and provide a range of products including produce.

The project has already generated controversy because of strong feelings people often have about the retail giant, said Susan Emery, the city's community development director.

"People either love Wal-Mart or hate it," she said. "We've received numerous calls so far from both sides."

Wal-Mart spokesman Aaron Rios said the company is happy with the environmental report.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback from the community," he said. "We believe this will be a good development for Garden Grove."

Residents will have 45 days to review and comment on the report and tonight's hearing is part of the process. So far, Emery says she has received only three formal responses about the report, but expects more tonight.

City staff members have said the center will generate 450 full-time jobs and $500,000 in sales tax revenue. A city-hired consultant recently recommended that city officials pursue Wal-Mart because of the potential for increased revenues. The environmental report says that there will be no major impact to the environment or other local businesses from the Supercenter.

Longtime resident Michelle Houser says she was somewhat surprised by the report's findings.

"In my opinion, this Wal-Mart is going to have a lot of negative effects," she said. "It's going to affect traffic, the environment and will wipe out most if not all the small businesses on Main Street."

Shirley Kellogg, a 51-year resident, said she was skeptical that the development would bring in a lot of money for the city.

"I think we as taxpayers will end up paying for the health needs of Wal-Mart employees because Wal-Mart won't take care of them," she said.

Jul 20, 2007, 1:38 AM
Giant mall planned for Woodland Hills
The Westfield Group plans to build a $750-million outdoor village between the Topanga and Promenade shopping centers.
By Amanda Covarrubias, Times Staff Writer
July 19, 2007


The sprawling Westfield shopping complex in Woodland Hills promises to become one of the largest in Southern California based on the latest plans from developers eager to build an outdoor village connecting the Topanga and Promenade malls.

The project planned by the Westfield Group would add a third mall, a hotel and residences to Westfield's existing properties in the west San Fernando Valley for a combined 3.8 million square feet of retail, office and residential space.

Plans for the $750-million outdoor village call for a 300-room hotel, 150 condominiums and apartments, offices and 550,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. Westfield officials said they don't plan to include department stores in the new mall.

The Village at Westfield Topanga is expected to attract 10 million visitors a year, on top of the 24 million who shop at Topanga and the Promenade annually. The new development could help Los Angeles boost its retail numbers, said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

"The city of Los Angeles is underperforming in retail," Kyser said Wednesday. "If you look at the per capita retail sales, by population, the city is below the county average. Things like this are good news for everyone who lives in the city. L.A. is fighting back.

"It definitely makes sense because that part of the county has the capacity to support it," Kyser said of the expansion plans. "It has good, quality job growth, and it will become more of a destination shopping mall."

Westfield estimates the village will generate $6 million in sales tax revenue per year and create 7,000 permanent retail jobs, as well as about 2,000 construction jobs.

The Australia-based Westfield filed an environmental assessment Tuesday with the city, the first step in a lengthy approval process in which the project will have to gain the support of neighboring residents and elected officials. Construction could start in two years if the approval process goes smoothly, company officials said.

Councilman Dennis Zine, who represents the area, said he believes the project would enhance the area by providing a gathering place for visitors and residents. The site, currently home to a vacant movie theater and a collection of disparate businesses, has needed a makeover for a long time, he said.

"The area is underutilized," Zine said Wednesday. "We needed to do something with that land that benefits the community, and the village concept is easy to work with."

Zine said he wants the project to include a senior center that would provide a space big enough for community meetings.

A committee of neighborhood organizations and local residents will be appointed to recommend ways to ease traffic congestion, he said.

"Critics will say, 'Traffic, traffic, traffic,' and I admit we need to address the issue," Zine said. "One of the major challenges is how we'll accommodate additional traffic volume."

The new mall would include 4,100 parking spaces, but Westfield officials have not decided how they will connect the three malls so shoppers don't have to get in their car each time they want to go to a different mall.

Preliminary plans call for the construction of pedestrian bridges to connect the three sites.

The Westfield shopping hub is bounded by Vanowen Street on the north, Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the west, Oxnard Street to the south and Owensmouth Avenue to the east.

Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, a mass transit advocacy group, suggested that the developers build a people mover, much like those used in some airports to carry travelers from the main building to outlying terminals.

"It would be a smart way to get people from here to there," Reed said Wednesday, adding that a people mover would be more feasible than moving sidewalks or pedestrian bridges because of the distance involved. "They could even have carts on board to hold their packages."

Shoppers at the Topanga Mall on Wednesday said they feared that the project would create congestion and gave the proposal mixed reviews.

"Do we really need another mall? Two malls is already too much. Traffic is awful," said Iris Brown of Calabasas, who was leaving Nordstrom.

"It's overkill," said Samara Frame, 29, of Topanga. "Everything in Woodland Hills is chains anyway. We don't need anymore chain stores. What's the freaking point?"

But Bob Pritchard, 64, and his wife Susie, 59, who are from Australia and have lived in Woodland Hills for many years, joked that Westfield's expansion would be good for the Australian economy.

They said they would support the idea if it included high-end dining, like they've seen at a Westfield mall in Sydney.

"I'm surprised there's enough businesses for it," Bob Pritchard said of the proposed mall.

Stephanie Collier, 22, of Calabasas, who sat outside the mall eating a frozen yogurt, said she welcomed the idea.

"I'm excited," she said. "It's easier to go to one place to do all your shopping."


Jul 20, 2007, 1:41 AM
Grocery store returns to a revitalized downtown neighborhood
By Cara Mia DiMassa, Times Staff Writer
July 19, 2007


Ralphs Grocery got its start in downtown Los Angeles during the horse-and-buggy days. But the supermarket abandoned the city center in 1950, a symbol of the district's rapid decline in the wake of the post-World War II suburban boom.

Now, Ralphs is poised to return to the heart of the city, with a 50,000-square-foot market in the shadow of Staples Center and more than a dozen new condo towers. It is scheduled to open Friday.

The supermarket is a central part of a concerted effort by developers and urban planners to create suburban touches in one corner of downtown, an area known as South Park.

Much of downtown's renaissance so far has been focused on the rehab of buildings in the pre-World War II commercial core, where dozens of once-dilapidated office buildings have been converted into luxury lofts. Residents prize century-old brick facades and lovingly restored grand lobbies — and tolerate the sometimes grimy streets that come with them.

But just a mile away, South Park feels different.

Sparkling new steel-and-glass high rises are sprouting on the sites of former parking lots, auto dealerships and warehouses.

Developers and city officials have planned wide sidewalks and double rows of street trees, as well as pocket parks in the middle of city blocks. There's even a light-rail platform a short walk away.

This strategy has helped developers attract to South Park businesses that are more often seen in suburbia: a Cold Stone Creamery that is going in next to the Ralphs; a Starbucks at 11th Street and Grand Avenue; and bistros, markets, nail salons and other amenities to serve the well-heeled neighborhood residents.

In addition, the first phase of LA Live, a 4-million-square-foot "sports and entertainment hub," is expected to open in September. That development will include chain restaurants such as P.F. Chang's, as well as a 14-screen multiplex.

"This is a modern neighborhood," said Cynthia Heimbold, a furniture designer who moved to South Park six months ago from the historic district. "This is new construction. It's cleaner … and I knew it was going to grow a lot quicker than the historic core, because they were starting from scratch."

Heimbold has opened a furniture store on the ground floor of her building, the Elleven, to cater in part to the growing number of residents in the area. "It feels like we are on the forefront of something really cool that's happening," she said.

The push to integrate suburban touches into urban settings has become a cornerstone of some downtown redevelopments. Cities like San Diego; Portland, Ore.; and Vancouver, Canada; have pushed for designs and amenities that foster safe and livable city centers.

"If you are a developer today and you are building in an area like that, if you don't think about the street-scaping and the neighborhood, you are nuts," said John McIlwain, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a land-use planning think tank. "People are buying not just an apartment but a neighborhood. Everything within a quarter mile, a five-minute walk, is as important as the countertops in their kitchens. It's an extension of their environment."

Realtor David Kean, who has represented buyers, sellers and renters of South Park units, said he finds that the upscale nature of the neighborhood appeals to many would-be residents.

"A lot of people want an area that's less fringey," Kean said. "They are willing to pay more to buy into an area that is already established and has stuff to do and restaurants nearby."

Still, some question whether the area will have the kind of urban fabric necessary to sustain it as a neighborhood over the long term — especially because housing prices in the area prevent many from moving in.

"It might look quite sanitized and manufactured. It's certainly not authentic. But at the same time, it's marketable," said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, chairwoman of the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. "Is it a neighborhood in the old sense of the word, where you know your neighbors and can borrow a bottle of milk from them? No, probably not. That doesn't come simply through design and wider sidewalks."

In South Park, more than 3,500 residential units have gone on the market so far, and about 5,400 more are planned to become available over the next three years or so.

If all of those units are built, that would mean that almost a quarter of residential units in downtown would be in South Park, according to the Downtown L.A. Business Improvement District.

Although most of the new developments have risen on former parking lots, there have been concerns from some housing advocates that downtown's upscale housing could move farther south, potentially pricing out low-income residents who have long called the area home.

For Heimbold, the reasons for moving to South Park were simple. She said she wanted "to be in an area I knew, a place that you knew was growing quickly, and would go up in value."

Rents at the Met Lofts, which developers describe as a boutique residence inspired by Bauhaus design, range from about $1,670 a month for a 687-square-foot space to about $4,500 for a 1,464-square-foot loft.

Most new South Park units, though, are condos, with prices starting around $500,000 and climbing steeply from there. "Not rebuilt. Not redesigned. Not re-anything," brags a website for Luma, one of the buildings by a consortium of Portland-based developers known as the South Group that has been at the forefront of the neighborhood's transformation.

When Jennifer Girsky and her husband, Marc, first decided to move into the area about four years ago, the entire neighborhood was still in the planning stages, and the building they had chosen was just a hole in the ground.

But Girsky said that when the couple saw plans for South Park, they loved the sparkling newness of the buildings and felt it was something vastly different for downtown. "Instead of looking old and urban, it's new and urban," said Girsky, a corporate flower designer.

The couple, in their 30s, live with their Maltese dog in a spacious 12th-floor unit with two bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows in Elleven, a 176-unit structure at 11th and Grand that is L.A.'s first residential high rise in 20 years.

The grand scale of South Park's transformation is due in large part to an abundance of available land, much of it amassed by the AEG Group, the firm owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz that also controls Staples Center.

"They had a dream, and they had Mr. Anschutz's money," said Jeff Lee of Lee Homes, which has four projects in the area, including one on land acquired from AEG. "They never gave up, and I am so glad we believed in their dream."

A big part of that dream involves a supermarket. When the downtown residential boom began, many of the new residents complained about the lack of a major supermarket in the city center. Many residents drive several miles away to stock up on groceries.

The opening of the Ralphs Fresh Fare is considered a symbolic boost for downtown — the latest sign that big retailers believe the downtown loft and condo community is strong enough to support their stores. Boosters hope that if Ralphs succeeds, other retailers will follow.

The first phase of LA Live, with more chain stores, will open in the fall. Both projects have been eagerly anticipated and could dramatically increase the amount of car and foot traffic in the area.

But others cite a third wave of proposed development, what Lee refers to as "the tower wave," as South Park's ultimate test. (Most of the new residential buildings in South Park today are in the 10- to 15-story range.)

Developer Richard Meruelo has begun construction on a 36-story building at 9th and Flower streets. The four phases of the Metropolis project, a mixed-use complex just east of the 110 Freeway, will each include a tower that is more than 30 stories.

And the Titan Organization Inc. plans to break ground early next year on twin towers at Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard — the design of which has led some downtown watchers to nickname them the "Grand Tetons" of downtown.

The plans, indeed, are grandiose. And several of the larger projects have fallen behind schedule. But as land costs in the area continue to rise, "the clock," Lee said, "is ticking."

Jul 20, 2007, 8:28 AM
Retail After Ralphs:
More Reasons to Come Downtown
By Andrew Asch
Retail Editor

An upscale Ralphs supermarket will debut on July 20 in downtown Los Angeles, a place that until recently was practically a no man’s land for retailers. Popular organic coffeehouse Urth Caffé will open a downtown location in August 2008.

Fashion boutique owner Sally Daliege hopes these two businesses will help make the area’s sometimes-desolate streets more inviting for fashion retailers.

During the last year, Daliege has been building a beachhead downtown for stylish apparel retail. On July 12, she celebrated the one-year anniversary of her store, Push Emporium at 400 S. Main St., with a fashion show.

When she opened her 2,500-square-foot store, more than two other fashion boutiques also opened on her block, which is anchored by City Hall hangout Pete’s Café. The designer atelier Stella Dottir and sneaker/streetwear shop Carves still do business in the area, but no other fashion boutiques have followed them. With a significant population of homeless living a couple blocks away, Daliege said it is understandable why retailers would be wary of opening a shop downtown.

“There’s the fear factor,” she said. “You’re taking a chance here. But if you’re a self-starter, you can succeed.”

There have been instances of high-profile retailers finding success downtown. For more than 35 years, Brooks Brothers has been selling suits to professionals downtown, most recently at the Metropolitan Life building at 604 Figueroa St.

The entry of the Ralphs supermarket might be a turning point for downtown retail, said Jack Kyser, the chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “It’s going to be important to the perceptions of downtown,” Kyser said. “It’s going to prove to retailers that there is a real market here.”

According to the 2006 “Downtown Business Improvement Demographic Survey,” the LAEDC found that the median income of downtown residents is $100,000, and the median income of people who work downtown is $62,000.

The Ralphs will serve a luxury consumer and offer basic services when the 55,000-square-foot supermarket opens near the corner of Flower and Figueroa streets. The upscale Ralphs will offer weekly wine tastings and dry-cleaning services as well as sushi prepared on site. It will serve well-to-do residents living in the $500,000 lofts adjacent to the Ralphs as well as office workers.

Supermarket spokesperson Terry O’Neil said his company was certain of success. It had opened a market in a similar demographic—the formerly blighted downtown San Diego, which has been transformed into an area of expensive lofts. The Ralphs store in downtown San Diego has been successful, according to O’Neil, who said he expects the downtown Los Angeles store to be profitable immediately and eventually be one of the chain’s top-volume stores.

The Urth Caffé has built a fashionable clientele at its West Hollywood, Calif., location since 1989. The new location is at 451 Hewitt St., near the Little Tokyo neighborhood. Customers will dine in the facility, and they will also witness how Urth chefs cook and prepare the café’s organic delicacies, according to Urth co-founder Shallom Berkman.

The upcoming debut of the popular Urth Caffé was one reason why Kristin Knauff felt bullish about downtown. She moved her boutique, Apartment 3, from the popular La Brea Avenue shopping district to the Arts District neighborhood downtown.

Her new location, at 500 Molino St., debuted June 9. She moved downtown for the wider availability of loft space. Along with retailing, she devotes much of her business to producing look books and runway shows for fashion clients.

Apartment 3 is open to the public on weekends and by appointment. Price points for women’s fashions range from $50 to $500. Her clientele typically comes from downtown and nearby neighborhoods such as Echo Park, Silverlake and Los Feliz.

Push’s clientele is split evenly between City Hall workers and downtown residents, Daliege said. “They need basics to make life go around,” she said. “They aren’t coming in to buy a dress.”

But Warren Cooley of the Valley Economic Development Center believes that fashion boutiques will be the finishing touch in making downtown a much more livable place. For the past two years, his organization has contracted with Los Angeles’ municipal government to help attract more businesses to the downtown area.

When it started in September 2004, the VEDC lent its consulting muscle to bringing nightclubs and restaurants to the area. But in January 2007, it planned to devote more time to bringing fashion boutiques and other consumer businesses downtown. The Ralphs could attract more businesses to the area, he said. “It will give people a reason to stay downtown,” he said.

Jul 20, 2007, 10:50 AM
^ Welcome back bjornson! Thought you were gone.

What's going on in the high-fashion world of LA? Anything new brewing? Any ideas where Shanghai Tang would set up shop?

Jul 21, 2007, 2:51 AM
Throng greets downtown L.A.'s first supermarket
By Cara Mia DiMassa, Times Staff Writer
1:21 PM PDT, July 20, 2007

More than 1,000 people lined up around the block as downtown Los Angeles' first supermarket in half a century opened its doors.

The huge turnout at 9th and Flower streets surprised organizers and spoke to the symbolic value of the Ralphs opening at a time when downtown is seeing a rebirth as a loft and condo hub.

After decades of decline, downtown is in the middle of a revitalization and building boom thanks to an influx of more than 20,000 residents who live in new high-rise towers and restored historic buildings. The new residents have long complained that there is no supermarket in the city center, forcing them to drive miles to get groceries.

The crowd wrapped around the block this morning chanting, "Open! Open!"

Carol Schatz, head of the downtown Business Improvement District, did her best to quiet the crowd.

"We've been waiting 50 years for this," she said. "You can wait five more minutes."

Inside the store, Michael Rich perused the gourmet coffee selection. The 39-year-old resident of the Gas Co. Lofts, a block from the store, said he had been tracking its progress since he moved in two years ago. In the meantime, he'd been shopping at the Vons in the Mid-Wilshire area.

"This is a big day for the residents," he said. "I'm going to be eating much better."

Buzz about the store had been developing for months on downtown-oriented websites.

Terry O'Neil, a spokesman for Ralphs, said the company had never seen this size of a turnout for a grocery store opening.

"We've had lineups, but not like this."

Jul 26, 2007, 5:18 AM
Downtown Los Angeles Continues Renaissance with New Upscale Boutique

(Newswire Today) — Los Angeles, CA, United States, 2007-07-24 - Welcome Hunters, a clothing shop that breaks European designers onto the US fashion scene, opens in Downtown LA.

Further evidence that Downtown LA is undergoing growth and revitalization, Welcome Hunters, an LA-based designer clothing shop for men and women, has opened in Chinatown.

Welcome Hunters features designer clothing that is not available elsewhere in the US. It is currently the only US distributor of Kokon To Zai from London, Jenny Hellstrom from Stockholm, best behavior from Copenhagen, and other eclectic designers who have a following in Europe, but not yet in the States.

Welcome Hunters carries only the current season's collections. For customers who have shopped outside the US and appreciate a sneak preview of fashion that will hit American stores a season or two later, Welcome Hunters is a shopping haven. “That’s why we opened the store,” says Robin Cervar, owner. “We have a great appreciation for European design, and wanted to make designers we love available here, in a fun, unpretentious, and hip environment.”

Surrounded by Chinatown galleries and the thriving downtown LA art scene, Welcome Hunters is the first designer clothing shop in the area, and holds monthly events in conjunction with gallery openings and art events.

Welcome Hunters has also launched its online shop for customers around the world. Cervar says it is unusual for a boutique to launch a major online shop concurrent with the boutique's opening, "We understand the challenges that accompany doing business in a changing neighborhood. An online presence will help drive revenue until the area catches up. We also wanted to open our store to the rest of the US and to the world."

Jul 27, 2007, 2:23 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
MainPlace owner wants makeover
Westfield is talking with Santa Ana about mall overhaul that could create one of O.C.'s biggest mixed-use projects.
The Orange County Register


The owner of the Westfield MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana is considering an expansion that could add condominiums, a senior living complex, a hotel, office buildings and outdoor shopping to the 20-year-old center.

The mixed-use idea, combining housing and retail, is part of a growing trend among malls and fledging neighborhoods throughout Orange County.

The redevelopment, which owner Westfield Group declined to describe in detail, could occur over the next three to five years, spokeswoman Katy Dickey, said Wednesday.

Westfield has been sharing these ideas with several Santa Ana officials since January, Karen Haluza, planning manager for the city, said Wednesday. The size and cost of the project are unknown, but the additional outdoor retail space would likely occur in front of the Nordstrom and California Pizza Kitchen area on Main Street.

"We would wholeheartedly support the idea of reinvestment and updating of the property," Haluza said. But she added that the city couldn't comment on the specific ideas Westfield is looking into because the mall developer is in an exploration phase. Westfield hasn't yet submitted formal plans to the city.

However, Dickey from Westfield did say that it's talking with C.J. Segerstrom & Sons of Costa Mesa to "evaluate future potential" for the land that Segerstrom owns near the mall.

Haluza, the city official, says Westfield's redevelopment will be on land it owns and on land owned by Segerstrom, which has a portfolio that includes South Coast Plaza. Those pieces of land near MainPlace have been entitled for hotel and office space since the late 1980s. Haluza couldn't say large the land in question is.

Westfield, Haluza adds, also has been talking about replacing surface parking with a parking structure to free up land for the hotel, housing and office, and to add outdoor retail.

As outdoor centers like The Grove in Los Angeles and Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga opened over the past few years, Haluza said Westfield wants to add "that popular component to MainPlace."

"Often, you see retail sites remaking themselves over time as retail trends change," she said. "They want to make themselves current and a destination for shoppers."

The redevelopment ideas are Westfield's latest effort to improve MainPlace, which, at 1.1 million square feet, is the county's eighth largest mall. Westfield, known for upgrading its mall properties, has owned MainPlace since 2002.

Westfield recently upgraded the mall's outdoor entrance to the food court, adding windows and canopies to the exterior of the mall as well as separate entrances from the parking lot into three stores. Two of those stores, Coldwater Creek and Soma by Chico's, are upscale retailers brought in last year in an effort to beef up the center's image as a venue for affluent shoppers. This year, Westfield replaced the former Robinsons-May women's store with a J.C. Penney that includes a Sephora cosmetics store.

When Westfield bought the old Robinsons-May building, it also scooped up the Macy'sbuilding. On Wednesday, Dickey from Westfield said the Macy's building would be part of the major upgrade at MainPlace.

Westfield's plan to combine housing with retail isn't new.

Across the street from MainPlace is The City Place, a development of townhouses, live-work lofts and 57,700 square feet of retail. It has leases with Pinkberry, McCormick & Schmick's, Mother's Market, Geisha House, Corner Bakery and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Nelson Wheeler, president of Strategic Retail Advisors, which is leasing the retail portion of the City Place, called the area around it a "very healthy retail location."

Last month, the mall owner of Bella Terra announced plans to add more than 500 apartments and condos to the shopping center in Huntington Beach.

Anaheim's Platinum Triangle near Angel Stadium is turning into a downtown-like setting, with more than 8,000 homes and shops. Triangle Square in Costa Mesa asked the city to consider housing on parts of that center. And the city has approved preliminary plans to build up to 455 homes, including live-work artist lofts, in an area that includes retail centers the Lab and the Camp.

Other local malls also are undergoing renovations, but they don't include housing.

Earlier this year, Brea Mall applied for a 200,000-square-foot mall expansion. A four-level parking structure with about 1,100 parking spaces is part of the plans submitted by the mall's owner, Simon Property Group. Construction is expected to start in about two years.

While the center hasn't revealed which retailers it will court for the new space, it did say it's considering a book store, furniture retailer and upscale housewares store and some boutique shops.

And South Coast Plaza is spending $30 million to shed its 1970s image for a more contemporary one with the recent addition of the upscale Bloomingdale's department store. The $30 million is the most money the Costa Mesa mall has spent on improvements in at least seven years.

Jul 31, 2007, 1:11 AM
Business is booming at 'Simpsons' 7-Elevens
"I usually sell 800 hot dogs a week," one owner says. "Now I'm selling about 3,000 a week."
By Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 25, 2007


Ever since 20th Century Fox and 7-Eleven teamed up to convert a dozen of its North America stores (including two in the L.A. area) into fictional Kwik-E-Marts as a monthlong promotional tie-in to "The Simpsons Movie," fans have been lining up for real-world versions of the Buzz Cola, KrustyO's and Squishees that previously existed only in the animated series.

"I never thought we were going to do this kind of business," said Swarn Sahni, who owns the 7-Eleven franchise at 1611 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank that will operate as a Kwik-E-Mart through the end of the month (the other local store is at 11143 Venice Blvd. in West Los Angeles). " 'The Simpsons' fans are spending money like crazy."

Sahni said the line outside the store has been near constant and his business has shot up about 300% since putting up the Kwik-E-Mart signage June 30.

Most of that comes from the movie-related merchandise (which is stocked in non-Kwik-E-Mart 7-Elevens as well) -- and more than a few hot dogs. "I usually sell 800 hot dogs a week," Sahni said. "Now I'm selling about 3,000 a week."

As for that most quintessential of Simpson edibles, the doughnut, the Burbank store had sold 57,510 of the Sprinklicious variety in July (they're the ones, as every "Simpsons" fan knows, with the pink icing and multicolored sprinkles), according to a 7-Eleven spokesman.

The doughnuts are only part of the attraction.

The Olive location has become a draw for many of the artists and actors who have worked on "The Simpsons" series or movie, a fact illustrated by the more than 30 character sketches taped in one corner -- the animator's equivalent of posting your head shot at the local dry cleaners.

Maggie Roswell, the Colorado resident who lends her voice to a handful of characters, including Maude Flanders, Sharri Bobbins, Luann van Houten and Helen Lovejoy (whom she plays in the feature film), came to town for Tuesday night's premiereand visited the store. She ended up posing for pictures in the parking lot with fans.

"I signed a little thing that said: 'Maude Flanders had to come to L.A. to actually see the real Kwik-E-Mart,' " she said.

In addition to life-size cutouts of a hot dog-wielding Homer Simpson, Milhouse and Bart cavorting on the roof and Chief Wiggum standing by with a doughnut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, there are many smaller, more subtle details.

Although the ATM sign that read "First Bank of Springfield" had been already been stolen, campaign posters for Mayor Quimby remained, as did a "Greetings From Springfield" poster -- complete with a three-eyed fish (a result of the local nuclear power plant). And for anyone who wanders around the side of the store, there is one more bonus:

"Many of the 'Simpsons' artists live in this area," said Sterling Hayman who works for TracyLocke, the Dallas agency that helped bring the Kwik-E-Marts to life. "So during the first week we called Fox and said, 'Hey, we thought of an extra added touch you guys might want to consider.' We wanted to make it appear that Bart has graffitied the side of the building."

Hayman walked around the corner of the building and pointed to the spray-painted words "Skinner stinks" and a caricature of Bart's long-suffering school principal and the tag "El Barto."

"That was done on Day 3," Hayman said. "I heard that someone who had been here several times saw it and was like, 'Wow, the store got tagged last night!' How cool is that?"

Aug 3, 2007, 6:46 AM
Thought I'd give solongfullerton and LAB an update.

The Changing Face of Melrose Place
By Andrew Asch – RETAIL EDITOR

When fashion designer Catherine Malandrino opens her next store in Los Angeles in December, she will be gambling on a fashion neighborhood that is at a crossroads.

Malandrino’s self-named store will be located at 653 N. La Cienega Blvd. It directly faces Melrose Place, a small, secluded road that is sandwiched behind busy Melrose Avenue and one of Los Angeles’ major traffic arteries, La Cienega Boulevard. When the Malandrino store debuts, it will gain access to a unique, burgeoning fashion community on Melrose Place that juggles prominence and privacy.

In the past two years, the small street has become the address for the boutiques of some big names in fashion, including Oscar De La Renta, Carolina Herrera, Marni and Marc Jacobs.

However, some business people charting the growth of the street wonder if the marriage of high fashion and an isolated street is a mismatch.

While prominent fashion brands often choose real estate in an area that is crowded with shoppers, Melrose Place is unique. The isolated tree-lined street is an oasis of calm in the bustle of Los Angeles. The street’s boosters concede that it might never attract big crowds. It is a destination shopping street that consumers must make an effort to find. However, Melrose Place is currently one of the most sought-after retail addresses in the city.
SOMETHING NEW: Diesel opened its Melrose Place flagship store,
pictured above, to experiment with new interior design and offer its
most fashion-forward styles.

Most of the street’s old guard of antiquesand furniture-store tenants have moved. Real estate executive Chuck Dembo, a partner in Beverly Hills–based Dembo & Associates, estimated that 10 percent of the street’s commercial space was available as of the last week of July. And these spaces might be leased quickly.

The new neighbors are some of the fashion world’s blue-chip names, and the rents are relatively cheap compared tenants to other shopping locales in the city. A square foot of commercial space goes for $15 at Melrose Place, according to Dembo. A square foot of commercial space on Rodeo Drive is $40. And on the most sought-after blocks of Robertson Boulevard, rents go for about $20 per square foot.

The street’s draw attracted footwear and accessories brand Sergio Rossi to pull up its stakes from the world-famous Rodeo Drive. Sergio Rossi will open its new place on Melrose Place by November. Italian denim label Diesel chose the place to open a 3,500- square-foot flagship store, where 90 percent of its wares will represent the label’s most innovative looks, according to Renzo Rosso, the president and founder of Diesel.
MALANDRINO’S LATEST: Catherine Malandrino
will open her newest Los Angeles store at 653
N. La Cienega, pictured above. It is located across
the street from Melrose Place and scheduled to
open in December.

The street also will give Catherine Malandrino a chance to do something new, according to a representative of the fashion designer.

Plans for the Malandrino store have not been finished, but the space may include a café and a homeware section, as well as her two collections: the designer Malandrino Collection and the contemporary Catherine Malandrino Collection. The Malandrino store will fill a two-story building, which until recently served as the headquarters of the Gregorius/ Pineo furniture designers. She also runs a boutique at 8644 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Rosso chose to build the Diesel flagship on this small street to try fresh ideas. “The opening of the Melrose flagship is especially significant to us,” Rosso said. “It represents the first time that we are able to express our design aesthetic more freely.”

The store used none of the design elements seen at other Diesel boutiques. Instead it mixes elements such as oversize 17th century castle doors and a side panel from an F-16 fighter jet. They bring out the drama of the Italian label’s most fashion-forward looks, Russo said.

While Melrose Place might be offbeat for Los Angeles, it fits in with shopping areas such as New York’s Meatpacking district and Le Marais in Paris, according to Roseanne Morrison, fashion director of New York–based trend forecaster The Doneger Group.

Both streets offer designer boutiques located in a unique neighborhood, Morrison said. “They’re off the beaten track. They have character,” she said. However, the Meatpacking District and even Paris’ Marais are located in more easily accessible places in pedestrian- friendly cities where consumers can take public transportation right to the area, according to Morrison.

She said consumers will clamor to visit Melrose Place’s designer stores, but the street could be more successful if it were more easily accessible and offered more services such as restaurants.

The lack of easy access might push shoppers away from the street, said Jennifer Wagner, a personal shopper who visits Melrose Place once every two months to find designer clothes for the wealthy clients of her company, The Luxe Look.

“I don’t see a lot of people on the street when I’m shopping,” she said. “They need some restaurants to draw people in. No one thinks to go over there.”

Rather,Wagner often sees stylists on the street pulling clothes for their clients to wear to award shows and in fashion shoots.

But restaurants are on their way. The California contemporary restaurant Bastide is scheduled to re-open on Melrose Place in late August, according to a representative of the venue’s owner, Joe Pytka, an acclaimed commercial director.

Yet opening a boutique on Melrose Place has made business sense for Marni USA, said Luca Voarino, the vice president of the Italian design house’s American division.

He claims that the store, one of the first fashion tenants on the street when it opened in March 2004, has surpassed expectations in the retail of volume of Marni fashions. He also said the majority of store visitors are serious customers, not personal shoppers and stylists.

However, big crowds may not be the point of the street, said Erin Kenny, manager of the Melrose Place fashion boutique Dolce Vita. She said that the news of the street has been spreading, and more tourists have come looking for the place. But the street also gives a fashion icon a chance to try something new in a charming, off-beat place.

“The street is a gem,” Kenny said. “It will never have the crowds of Rodeo. It is different.”

Aug 3, 2007, 8:51 AM
^ Nice! Sergio Rossi :) Is Chloe already open? It's supposed to be right next to Oscar. I think the next two stores should be Jil Sander and Calvin Klein Collection.

Aug 3, 2007, 9:13 AM
From what I can tell, no. I just love how Sergio Rossi's leaving Rodeo though.

Is Jil Sander and CK Collection really coming? Sorry I haven't been around the area. Any other boutiques that you saw? Balenciaga? Vera Wang?

Here's some more news:

Melrose Welcomes Helmut Lang
2007-06-19 12:57:00
According to Women's Wear Daily, designer brand Helmut Lang will open a boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in late summer. The freestanding store — under construction across the street from Melrose Place — is adjacent to a new 4,000-square-foot Theory boutique, which is also owned by Helmut Lang's parent company, Japan's Link Theory Holdings Co. Ltd. The store will be the only freestanding Helmut Lang unit in the U.S., though the company is said to be eyeing retail space in New York. Dont you just love when LA gets things before New York?!?

Denim Dish: Farmer Jeans Plants First Retail Seed in Los Angeles

Thursday, August 02, 2007

By Emili Vesilind
When denim company Farmer Jeans went hunting for space in Los Angeles to open its first store, the company veered away from the city's tony Westside areas — including Montana Avenue and Robertson Boulevard — where premium denim companies such as Paige Premium Denim and AG Adriano Goldschmied launched their first boutiques. FARMER Jeans opens its first retail store in the heart of where Hollywood and Sunset Blvd begins. It is located @ 4648 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

Aug 3, 2007, 9:52 AM
I don't think Jil Sander or CK Collection are planning on expanding anytime soon, but I just feel the vibe on Melrose Place would suit Jil Sander and CK Collection. As for Balenciaga, I heard it was actually opening up on Melrose near the PDC?! Vera Wang has yet to put up those construction boards on Melrose Place from the last time I visited a few weeks ago.

Juicy Couture is opening it's worldwide flagship store on Rodeo by the beginning of fall I believe (I was told by the sales associate in Century City). And Miu Miu is supposed to be taking the space that Graff London was supposed to open up in. Any word on that?

Aug 24, 2007, 6:59 AM
Here's a hint as to when Miu Miu will open:
7월 12 2007 1:29오전 EDT
Miu Miu Creeping Towards Luxury

Have you noticed something funny at Miu Miu these days? (Or, not so funny, depending on the size of your wallet.) It's the prices. They've been going up and up, and now, if memory serves, are pretty damn close to what Prada's prices were in 2000. Back in those crazy pre-euro days, we on the fashion show circuit would buy Miu Miu in Italy as if it were Banana Republic. ( Of course the 30 percent discount for press helped too.)

But not any more. When it launched, Miu Miu was meant to be a traditional 2nd tier brand, like D&G to Dolce and Gabanna or Emporio Armani to Armani. Same name, cheaper price points, different fabrics, lower profit margins (20 percent versus 40 at the luxury level) but many more sales, was the theory. But while other second labels are trying to cut costs by moving production out of Europe to compete with the likes of Zara and Topshop, Miu Miu is going the other way.

Its existing stores have been refurbished (in rich dark hues which completely distinguish it from Prada -- the newly made-over store in Soho, New York opens this week), the prices pushed up (though still shy of Prada's, which were also pushed up), and the quality of the products improved. But perhaps most tellingly, the new Miu Miu stores rub shoulders with the Prada's and Gucci's of the world, not with the D&G's and the Emporio Armani's. I mean, the new Miu Miu store on 57th Street in New York which opens in November is in the old Jil Sander space--how much more luxury do you get? In LA, it's opening on Rodeo Drive by the end of the year. And a Prada Group executive told me that when they find a space, Miu Miu London will move from the unfashionable end of Bond Street near Oxford Street to a larger space on a chic street. And why not? With an ostrich bag selling for £1,675 -- it is certainly a brand in the big leagues.

Burberry is currently cautiously testing bags at £1095.

If they can pull it off brining it up to par with Prada it will be quite a coup for the group. Of course they still have a ways to go. Prada revenues in 2006 were $1.6 billion and Miu Miu's just $208 million. But in the meantime, it has already helped the group hold their own against the consumer malaise in Japan. Japan is Miu Miu's biggest market, thanks to its cute and trendy focus that appeals to consumers burnt out on big brands. Prada Group saw sales grow 6 percent in Japan from February to May, versus a decline in sales at most other brands.

Aug 24, 2007, 7:13 AM
Robertson Continues to Evolve Without Coach
Coach bags plans for a Robertson store, but the high-profile L.A. thoroughfare continues to draw new boutiques.

By Andrew Asch, Retail Editor

Coach Inc. pulled up its stakes from Robertson Boulevard. But the high-profile defection won’t stop the major changes transforming the premier Los Angeles shopping street.

New York–based Coach confirmed that it will not debut its Coach Legacy store at 112 S. Robertson Blvd. In February, the $2 billion luxury accessories label announced plans to open Coach Legacy concept stores on Robertson and on New York’s Bleeker Street.

The Bleeker Street Coach Legacy store will eventually open, according to a company representative who did not give a reason for shifting gears on Robertson.

However, Robertson businesses should not take Coach’s plans as a vote of no confidence. Some of the world’s top retailers have big plans for the street.

Chanel will build an accessories store at 125 N. Robertson. Stylish New York–based boutique Intermix is building an emporium on the north 100 block of the street.

Ralph Lauren has reportedly set its eyes on the building at 143 N. Robertson, which currently houses a big antiques store, according to the street’s commercial real estate agents, although a Ralph Lauren spokesperson said that the popular designer had no plans for the street at the present time.

Los Angeles–based premium-denim label 7 For All Mankind is scheduled to debut its first boutique on the south 100 block of the street in late autumn. The company stated that Robertson will be the perfect billboard for its upcoming chain of stores, according to retail vice president Aaron Battista.

Many high-profile fashion companies, including True Religion and United Kingdom–based Reiss, share Battista’s view about the shopping street. With deep pockets and a desire to move onto Robertson, these labels helped transform the place from a haven for hip multi-brand retailers, to a street dominated by branded stores and retailers with a national presence.

In the past four years, Robertson rents shot up from $17 per square foot to $20 per square foot, according to Matthew May, president of May Realty Advisors, based in Encino, Calif. Rodeo Drive fetches one of the highest prices in L.A. County, at $40 per square foot. Portions of Beverly Drive, which borders Rodeo, have properties that cost $10 per square foot.

The skyrocketing prices are driving independent retailers out, according to Fraser Ross, owner of Kitson, one of the pioneering boutiques on Robertson.

“It’s become corporate,” Ross said of the street. “Robertson can still be a unique place, but it needs independents to be unique.”

Competition to sell the best fashion lines has become fiercer than it has in the past, according to Ross. He will debut a new store in West Hollywood, Calif., possibly as early as Dec. 1. The 7,000-square-foot store’s working name is Kitson Melrose. It will sell men’s and women’s clothing and accessories and will be located on the 8500 block of West Melrose Avenue near Westbourne Drive.

Ross worried that if independents leave the street to branded stores, Robertson shopping will lose its unique character. Instead of offering the newest fashion lines, stores will offer styles that are available on any retail thoroughfare in the United States. Tourists and locals might greet this change by not visiting the street. If Ross is right, it would be a change for Robertson, which has become a symbol for luxury and celebrity over the past few years.

Celebrity magazines US and People helped build the reputation of the street by documenting young celebrities shopping the street and lunching at movie-industry boîte The Ivy. Crowds of tourists and shoppers often followed them.

If the stars were attracted to the street’s hip fashion lines, the attention showered on the street made it influential enough to help shape fashion trends—such as the premium-denim craze—of the past decade.

However, Jamie Ross, a creative director at New York–based trend forecaster The Doneger Group, said shopping crowds will never abandon the street. Big names might just make the place more popular.

She has tracked shopping streets around the globe. Robertson might be following the same growth curve that New York’s SoHo neighborhood experienced.

SoHo was formerly dominated by independent, multi-line retailers with a forward-looking style. Over the past few years it has been dominated by branded boutiques and national chains, including True Religion, American Apparel and Ted Baker, all of which also have stores on Robertson.

Ross said she thought that many consumers were comforted by seeing familiar brands. “[In SoHo,] you can’t find a parking space there on weekends,” she said. “It’s out of control.”
Independent stores might benefit from doing business adjacent to national retailers. The high-marquee names might attract more consumers who might not learn about the independent retailers, according to Ross.

A continued game of retail musical chairs might dominate Robertson’s future, said May, the real estate broker who helped find space for True Religion’s Robertson space. The real estate boom of the past few years made desirable real estate in Los Angeles very valuable.

“Stores can make more money by selling their leases than running their businesses,” he said.

However, Robertson rents might have hit a plateau, said Chuck Dembo, partner with Beverly Hills–based Dembo & Associates. His commercial real estate company has been active on the street for years. He said that the price hikes have tapered off, a reaction to the skyrocketing real estate costs in the past few years.

Robertson will never be a typical retail street, he said. “I doubt if we’re going to see The Gaps and the Abercrombie & Fitches on Robertson,” Dembo said. “It’s too specialized of an area. They probably don’t want to pay the high rents.”

A Store is Born
Thanks to its just-launched Los Angeles location, Moss—the New York retail institution regarded by some as the most influential design store in the world—is making it easier for bored movie-producer wives to shop for fashionably blackened chandeliers and lobster serving dishes. But rather than simply transplant the pristine, display-case aesthetic of its SoHo flagship, the new space appears to be designed—by owner Murray Moss himself—with its showy, artifice-obsessed environment in mind. Everything in the light-flooded, 3500-square-feet space is theatrical to the hilt, from the ten-ton steel beam that runs through it to the giant neon Moss logos. Even its Melrose location plays to Angelenos' cliquey, consumerist tendencies. Instead of settling in the design district among ordinary furniture-peddling showrooms, Moss chose Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furtsenberg and Paul Smith for his neighbors. Unchanged, however, from the East Coast original is the museum-quality selection of furniture, lighting and decorative arts by the likes of Campana, Studio Job, Tord Boontje, Hella Jongerius and Nymphenburg Porzellan. The new store will also showcase special installations, such as this baby grand piano blowtorched by Maarten Baas. Overdramatic? Perhaps, but this is Hollywood. –Suleman Anaya

Aug 24, 2007, 9:22 AM
Now if only there was a subway that took you to the corner of San Vicenti and Beverly Blvd. (right by Beverly Center and Cedar Sinai). This would serve not only those two aforementioned centers, but also the Avenues of Art and Design, Robertson Blvd. shopping (mentioned above in bjornson's posts), and even Weho gay clubbin'! I really hope the MTA studies that route as the possible extension of the Purple Line instead of just going down Wilshire Blvd.

http://img251.imageshack.us/img251/343/purplelineextensionhs2.png (http://imageshack.us)

Sep 19, 2007, 8:51 PM
Rodeo Shopping Center Fetches Top Dollar
By DANIEL MILLER - 9/17/2007
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

Two Rodeo Drive, a high-end shopping plaza in Beverly Hills, has been sold for $275 million, or $2,132 per square foot.

The multi-tenant property at the northeast corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard was purchased by Sloan Capital, a real estate investment company headed by Irish racehorse owners John Magnier and J.P. McManus, and Irish real estate investor Aidan Brooks of Brooks Properties, according to the Sunday Business Post, a business newspaper based in Dublin.

The seller was Rodeo Owner Corp., an entity of an unnamed European family trust, said Scott Sweeney of Falcon Real Estate, who represented the seller. The deal closed August 29. The buyers also own the building across the street on Rodeo Drive. That property, known as One Rodeo Drive, houses a Bulgari store.

While the deal does not represent a price-per-square-foot record for Beverly Hills, it is on the high side for the market and comes after the ownership completed some minor improvements that raised occupancy levels. “We felt it was a good time to sell into a strong investment market,” Sweeney said.

The family trust had purchased the property in 2000 from Japanese institutional investors.

Tenants at the 129,000-square-foot center include Tiffany & Co., Versace and Jimmy Choo, among others. The property, which was built in 1990, includes a European-style cobblestone street – called Via Rodeo – that cuts through the retail district.

“It is one of the landmark retail centers on Rodeo Drive,” said Steve Algermissen of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., who represented the buyers. “It has numerous prestigious tenants and it is a high identity location. It anchors the south end of Rodeo Drive. From that standpoint it is a landmark retail asset. ”

Sep 22, 2007, 3:15 AM
Robertson Continues to Evolve Without Coach
Coach bags plans for a Robertson store, but the high-profile L.A. thoroughfare continues to draw new boutiques.

By Andrew Asch, Retail Editor

A Store is Born
Thanks to its just-launched Los Angeles location, Moss—the New York retail institution regarded by some as the most influential design store in the world—is making it easier for bored movie-producer wives to shop for fashionably blackened chandeliers and lobster serving dishes. But rather than simply transplant the pristine, display-case aesthetic of its SoHo flagship, the new space appears to be designed—by owner Murray Moss himself—with its showy, artifice-obsessed environment in mind. Everything in the light-flooded, 3500-square-feet space is theatrical to the hilt, from the ten-ton steel beam that runs through it to the giant neon Moss logos. Even its Melrose location plays to Angelenos' cliquey, consumerist tendencies. Instead of settling in the design district among ordinary furniture-peddling showrooms, Moss chose Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furtsenberg and Paul Smith for his neighbors. Unchanged, however, from the East Coast original is the museum-quality selection of furniture, lighting and decorative arts by the likes of Campana, Studio Job, Tord Boontje, Hella Jongerius and Nymphenburg Porzellan. The new store will also showcase special installations, such as this baby grand piano blowtorched by Maarten Baas. Overdramatic? Perhaps, but this is Hollywood. –Suleman Anaya

What the F is wrong with this writer? :hell: Please tell me this is a NY writer so I can confirm by own reverse biases against provincial NY-ers.

Codex Borgia
Sep 22, 2007, 2:58 PM
The article you read was gleaned from HintMag.com.... based in NYC....
original article here http://www.hintmag.com/shoptart/shoptart.php
so perhaps your suspicions of NY based writer ~Suleman Anaya is that you?? are correct ;)


Sep 23, 2007, 9:39 AM
well, i do have to agree that LA has a tendency to favor trashy kitsch over subtlety and sophistication. I'm not surprised at LA's reputation and on that point I have to agree. LA is gaudy, noisy, and cheap. One can see it in the architecture. Although yes, the writer obviously isn't hiding her disdain for that and borders on outright snobbery.

by the way, that shanghai tang looks horrid.

Sep 23, 2007, 10:10 AM
^ LA is far from gaudy, edluva. One only has to take a drive down Santa Monica Blvd. in LA proper to see otherwise. Cheap? Maybe. That's because developers have restorted solely to stucco, blame it on pure economics. An area booms too fast, and developers have to build as much and as "cost-effective" as possible. Noisy? I assume you mean the visual kind. If that's what you mean, I see a lot less "noise" in LA than a city like NYC or Tokyo (plenty of neon and commercial ads).

Subtlety and sophistication may come from the kind of architecture you're partial towards: euro style perhaps? Is Art Deco (popular in NYC) really subtle, or is it definitive? How about Victorian in SF? Also, I've seen you post somewhat favorably about Tokyo, and I would say the visual clutter of signs everywhere is "gaudy" and "noisy."

LA is not your cup of tea because it was built as a large subdivision that got too popular. Blame it on MANKIND for its strong desire for good weather and an obsession for "space and privacy." LA is like Palm Springs, but on super steriods.

Nevertheless, I think the kind of infill projects we're seeing now being built (like Wilshire/Vermont and the various other projects in Downtown LA) in conjunction with mass transit efforts will slowly develop a more liveable city for those who are fortunate enough to live in that area.

Sep 23, 2007, 10:43 AM
no, gehry is not my cup of tea, and nor is our other sophistry-spouting "laureate" thom mayne. their stuff is cheap (and I do mean cheap figuratively, LAB) and self-serving, and like most of the architecture in LA, attention-whorish at many costs. Among these costs are sophistication and refinement - or what i consider "class"...taste infused with attention to detail.

Tokyo's noise, (assuming you're referring to crammed signage) is a product of density alone, not a concerted self-conscious effort on behalf of any individual architect to project himself egotisically and monolithically at would-be shoppers. This noise solely a product of lots of store owners selling in a crammed space. In LA, the entire facade becomes signage, and it compromises architectural substance, watering it down so that architecture becomes a bit more commercial circus than intellectual pursuit. Kind of like a hollywood blockbuster.

Art deco or victorian decoration, even at its lowest form is much more thought-out, probably more aesthetically considerate than most of the better stuff out here, wouldn't you think? And taking it from another perspective, don't you ever wonder why LA is the only one with this global reputation as being somewhat trashy and tacky? (keeping within the industrialized world). Does it ever enter your mind that maybe that reputation was earned? I wonder at times about the discernment of one who could miss such a fact.

the only way LA isn't my cup of tea is of how it's symbolic of intellectual laziness, and of the false pretense substituted in place of intelligence. there's a culture of ignorance and vanity here thats really hard to see in a positive light. Like you know the archetypical southern conservative? Well the vapid jessica simpson archetype ranks right up there. case in point - politics here is sort of funny. we're "liberal" (and probably also enjoy associating with its intellectualism) but we're not so in a way SF is. it's like night and day. LA's probably one of the few "liberal" places where you'll see for instance, protesters of immigration reform express a "cause" by waving mexican flags and behaving in a way that borders nationalistic chest-thumping (for the wrong country). And don't mistake this as a remark on mexicans or latinos at all - its just that movements here are almost exclusively driven by populist sensationalism and ignorance, even for the suddenly "enviro-conscious" westsiders. And my thing is about exactly that - how pop-driven and fashion-driven our values are. The moment it's "cool" to be smart, droves of angelenos start dressing like wheezer, but when prompted for substance you get a blank stare. How many movements actually originate here? Most of them are imported because to put it bluntly, there's little originating substance to export from here. LA is the cultural middle-man - we take truth's others have discovered, repackage them, and export those instead, for profit.

Sep 23, 2007, 11:51 AM
^ So you've described the way LA residents operate in your opinion...now, why do you think the built environment encourages that kind of mentality in your opinion? Obviously, not everyone who was born here or moved here from anywhere across the world is inherently "dumb" and espouses to the same kind of pretension and pontification you accuse them of. Are you the lone "survivor" transplant living in pergatory? Or are you succumbing to the very trap you accuse every other Angeleno of falling into?

It's easier to recognize a problem, but a lot harder to explain why and to offer ideas to ameliorate it.

Sep 23, 2007, 8:08 PM
well, i'm just making an observation, and you're right, it's based on an opinion. but to start, mike davis's city of quartz for all its polemic (and there are plenty of things I don't agree with), as i've said in another post, offers a good start on why the things i've said are so. the built environment, the unfortunate status of LA's economic and social highest rung being driven by consumerist artificiality, popular images (referring to hollywood) and the fact that something more down-to-earth such as academics or finance fail to temper it because of our brain drain or corporate drain, are good sources. sure we're blue collar, but that constituent's only starting to grow a voice, and its voice is a bit sensationalistic in itself and probably needs a bit more honing or "refinement". the generic built environment plays its role, having evolved to support an economy and society that is itself more commercialized, malleable, and generic than any preceding global city. For that LA is a pioneer, though i'm not so sure if in a good way.

Time will tell if LA can evolve into a city of place and a society which can contribute to the rest of the world, real causes and movements that originated here out of uniqely local circumstances. But LA's problems, at least as I've described them, are symptoms of the mass commercialization of ideas and culture and the destruction of localism which is advancing so quickly with the application of technology. Every city is suffering from it but LA much more completely than all others, and LA is unique in that it started out this way.

anyways, it's fun for me to analyze cities and people, and it's one the the things that help me pass time. but for you to turn this against me sounds like a cheap way of saying you have no alternative interpretation to offer me. it's easy to make a broad swipe at analysis with generic platitudes such as "its easy to complain" but "got a solution?" because saying such things is an easy way positioning onself to appear as though they've turned the table on a discussion topic and an easy way of absolving oneself from responsibility - responsibility to think for oneself and to offer original critique. :cheers: :tup: :notacrook:

Sep 24, 2007, 10:05 AM
What I find so utterly obnoxious about that writer is that she dares to fabricate a dichotomy between Angelenos and New Yorkers using, of all things, the levels of consumerism. New York City, the capital of the everything, now including anti-consumerism.

The nature of the recent immigration protests with the Mexican flag waving and nationalistic chanting was an effect of the Los Angeles environment? I didn't find the nature of the LA protests to be unique, but almost interchangeable with the protests in Chicago with the same level of chanting and Mexican flag waving. Two very different cities, but both with large Mexican immigrant populations. It suggests more about Mexican immigrant culture in general than of Mexican culture specific to Los Angeles. I'll also comment that the Mexican flag was used as an ethnic symbol at least as much as one of chest-thumping nationality.

There is atleast one significant movement that originated in Los Angeles: the modern gay rights movement, with the creation of the Mattachine Society. But I believe the city's lack of movements suggests more about the handicap of being arriviste than of a city lacking significant intellectual faculties.

sopas ej
Sep 24, 2007, 6:27 PM
don't you ever wonder why LA is the only one with this global reputation as being somewhat trashy and tacky? (keeping within the industrialized world).

Wouldn't that be Las Vegas? Actually, the whole state of Nevada is tacky and trashy... and then there's Phoenix, AZ.

But I guess all of this is subjective.

...LA is the cultural middle-man - we take truth's others have discovered, repackage them, and export those instead, for profit.

I beg to differ; I think many creative and genuinely intellectual people live in LA. Many consumer trends also get started here and then spread to the rest of the US. And then of course there's the whole "diversity" thing. I think that adds to the mix, and makes Angelenos cosmopolitan. I grew up in SoCal and what I take for granted or consider common knowledge, I find I have to explain to people from other states (eg., Chinese Islamic food, baba ganoush and the meaning of "Hey, güero!"). A friend of mine who moved to Seattle a few years ago moved back to LA after having only lived in Seattle for 1 year; he thought the people there were very unsophisticated and clueless.

May 2, 2008, 1:09 AM
Here's a "Southern CA Retail Scene"-related question for you L.A. forumers: What would you nominate as the best mall - or your favorite mall - in the L.A. area?

I was talking about this with someone the other day. Here in the Bay Area, it seems like the Westfield in downtown SF is everyone's consensus choice, but in L.A., you might have more varied opinions.

My pick would be Fashion Island in Newport Beach...not only are the shops great but the atmosphere is very relaxing.

May 3, 2008, 2:49 PM
Debut of Rick Caruso's new mall gets Hollywood treatment in Glendale
Americana at Brand opens with a black-tie gala that includes meals by Wolfgang Puck, emceeing by Jay Leno and a bevy of musical talent.
By Cara Mia DiMassa, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 3, 2008

When the Glendale Galleria opened in 1976, the opening ceremonies were held in the mall at 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday. The VIP list included civic and business leaders, as well as the 94-year-old fourth-generation descendant of the man who received the original land grant for San Rafael, now Glendale.

Then there is mega-developer Rick Caruso.

Caruso's latest project, Americana at Brand, opened Thursday night with a black-tie gala that promised a "return to glamour" -- Caruso's words -- and delivered an over-the-top Hollywood production, complete with fireworks, Klieg lights and extras.

The belle of the ball was the $400-million Americana, Caruso's retail and residential development in the heart of Glendale, across the street from the Galleria. The dinner and entertainment part of the evening was held on the top floor of the complex's parking garage -- with reinforcements brought in to buttress the garage under the weight of the evening's 2,000 invited guests.

A line of white-jacketed valets greeted guests as they drove into the center, where bar tables topped with douppioni silk stood outside ground-floor shops such as Tiffany, Kate Spade and Calvin Klein. Showgirls in full regalia walked the lawn at the heart of the development. Guests were driven to their seats by male models in golf carts.

Among the guests was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who told the crowd, "I love shopping. So I'll be back."

They dined on a sit-down menu of filet mignon with wild mushroom leek tortellini and Grand Marnier souffle' catered by Wolfgang Puck. They were serenaded by a host of marquee names, including the Four Tops, the Temptations, Natalie Cole and Tony Bennett.

Oh, and the emcee? None other than "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno.

To get the project built, Caruso waged a seven-year battle that included fighting a ballot referendum against the project funded by General Growth Properties, the owners of the Glendale Galleria.

He acknowledged many of the workers who helped him get there -- some in ways more generous than others. For bringing the project in on time, the construction manager was given a black BMW 7 series, which was driven close to the stage at Caruso's bidding.

But perhaps his biggest praise went to a couple of residents in the audience, members of a civil court jury that last year awarded Caruso $89 million in damages and compensation, finding that General Growth illegally threatened to prevent the Cheesecake Factory from moving into his complex.

Caruso apparently had tracked them down and added them to the guest list.

"They are a great group of people," Caruso said. "They are not only the jury on this trial, they are the jury on my next trial," he joked.

Glendale officials, who recently agreed to name a street after the developer, were a little star-struck by the festivities.

"I don't think the city of Glendale will ever see a gala of that nature again," said Councilman Ara Najarian, chairman of the city's redevelopment agency.

"Even if someone builds a $500-million mall" -- he corrected himself -- "lifestyle center, like Caruso did, I don't think anyone has the commitment and flair that Mr. Caruso has."

Glendale Police Capt. Lief Nicolaisen said that about 11 p.m., the event generated more than a few calls to the department's communications center from people wondering whether they had just heard gunshots. Nope, they were assured; it was just fireworks, marking Americana's loud debut in their city.


May 4, 2008, 5:40 PM
Wow you guys had an interesting conversation on this thread back in September 2007. Just a few posts up though. I'd quibble with edluva's repeated assertions of the death of local or regional culture, but nevertheless it was really interesting!

And while people have a tendency to put down "manufactured" experiences such as the Americana, I think they're fascinating in their own way. At least they're something new. It strikes me that a "pod" or buffet style approach to cities, lifestyles, experiences and even identities was and is being pioneered in significant part by Southern California. There isn't much intellectual framework behind the it, but it is one of the great trends of our time.

May 5, 2008, 1:53 AM
That was an interesting conversation. Here are some downtown retail updates from earlier today:

Lot44 Coffee in the Douglas Building looks like it's only days away from opening.


A peak inside...


T-Mobile taking up the corner retail spot in the PanAmerican Lofts building at 3rd and Broadway, kitty corner from the Sprint store in the Bradbury Building.


And I don't know if this has been talked about in the LA Nightlife thread, but work has started on "Rivera" a restaurant and lounge on the Flower Street side of the Met Lofts. The photo is of a rendering sitting inside the window (sorry for the reflections). It says "tequilaria" in the picture on the upper right.


May 5, 2008, 2:15 AM
In that rendering, I thought that woman was carying a gutiar but it's your flip flop.

In any event, it looks really cool and finally glad something is going into Met Lofts. Now after I play DDR on the side of the building, I can go get something to eat.

May 5, 2008, 2:37 AM
^ That is indeed my flip flop, and not a guitar case.

May 5, 2008, 4:18 AM
Here's a "Southern CA Retail Scene"-related question for you L.A. forumers: What would you nominate as the best mall - or your favorite mall - in the L.A. area?

I was talking about this with someone the other day. Here in the Bay Area, it seems like the Westfield in downtown SF is everyone's consensus choice, but in L.A., you might have more varied opinions.

My pick would be Fashion Island in Newport Beach...not only are the shops great but the atmosphere is very relaxing.

I would choose the Galleria in Glendale possibly. BTW, you kinda bumped this thread.

May 5, 2008, 3:45 PM
Drove by Lot 44 Coffee this morning and they were open. Let's hope it does well.

May 6, 2008, 6:04 AM
Seeking shoppers in Westwood Village
The UCLA-adjacent area is ringed by affluent neighborhoods but has struggled for 20 years. An economic shot in the arm may be on the way.
By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
5:57 PM PDT, May 5, 2008

Remember Westwood?

Before multiplexes changed filmgoing, fans stood in line for hours outside Westwood Village movie palaces to see such blockbusters as "The Exorcist." Before chain stores and Amazon wrested business from independent booksellers, readers browsed the racks of Hunter's, Campbell's and Westwood Books.

And before Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, Old Pasadena and Universal CityWalk came on the scene, the triangular-shaped district south of UCLA was the hippest place to be in L.A. on a Saturday night.

But in the 20 years since gang intimidation and violence chilled Westwood Village's groovy vibe, the area has struggled -- with spotty success and many setbacks -- to reclaim its former zing. Meanwhile, other shopping options have sprung up, including the faux village known as the Grove at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, and Westfield's revitalized Century City shopping center.

"Is it realistic to think Westwood is going to come back to anything like it was, a major shopping destination?" mused Jeff Abell, a co-owner of Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers, a 62-year village fixture. "I think nothing substantive is going to happen unless the landlords sit down . . . and work out a cohesive plan."

Given Westwood Village's location amid the "platinum triangle" of Bel-Air, Holmby Hills and Brentwood -- not to mention UCLA's 43,000 students and faculty members -- it's a wonder that the place has ever been anything but a dazzling success.

Village devotees say the lack of a singular vision and the area's notoriously difficult parking are squelching any hope for a robust comeback. But a burst of construction activity promises to spur momentum.

On Glendon Avenue, a block east of Westwood Boulevard, the first of an anticipated 700 tenants have moved into the 350-unit Palazzo Westwood Village even as workers scurry to complete the project. Nearby on Lindbrook Drive, the former site of a Flax art supply store, developer Kambiz Hekmat has broken ground on an "extended stay" boutique hotel that will have shops and restaurants. A modernist retail project from developer Ron Simms is planned at the site of the recently razed 1,100-seat Mann National Theater, where "The Exorcist" had its Los Angeles opening in 1973.

Merchants and landlords say they hope the activity will bring well-heeled customers. They warn that it is too early to tell how successful Casden Properties Inc., headed by billionaire developer Alan Casden, will be in attracting tenants. Monthly rents for an 860-square-foot, one-bedroom unit start at $2,750; three-bedroom town homes range from $6,900 to about $7,500.

Westwood Village is hardly a wasteland, as midday traffic jams attest. Pedestrians still crowd the sidewalks, particularly at lunchtime, when office workers spill out of Wilshire Boulevard high-rises. New eateries such as the Stand and Chipotle are finding customers, as are Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and Active Ride Shop, which sells skateboarding gear and apparel.

Ralphs, Whole Foods, the Geffen Playhouse and the Hammer Museum are big draws. June's Los Angeles Film Festival (of which the Los Angeles Times is a presenting sponsor) will be the third in the village, with visitors expected to spend about $30 each beyond the cost of tickets.

But the village, at its inception in the 1920s one of the most immaculately planned and beautifully laid out of commercial areas in the nation, has become an architectural and mercantile mishmash. Much of the original Mediterranean charm and uniqueness went missing long ago.

"As far as I'm concerned, most of it is ruined with giant buildings," said Marc Wanamaker, a historian who is writing a book about Westwood Village.

In 1970, a 24-story office building now known as Oppenheimer Tower replaced Truman's drive-in, a popular hangout at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards. "That," Wanamaker said, "changed the village. Between then and now there has been a total transformation."

Westwood still attracted throngs of visitors until the late 1980s, but they grew wary when gangs began cruising the streets and harassing pedestrians. In January 1988, 27-year-old Karen Toshima, a bystander celebrating a job promotion, was killed in a gang shootout.

"That was it," Wanamaker said. "Nobody showed up the next weekend. It was a ghost town."

Commercial rents have yet to approach the 1988 peak, when annual leases were going for $70 a square foot, said Stanley McElroy, a vice president with CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate firm. Today they range from $36 to $60.

Even longtime property owners such as Topa Management Co. -- billionaire John Anderson's real estate firm -- are struggling to lure and keep high-quality tenants. The Gap vacated a Topa building in late 2003, and Ann Taylor Loft will leave at the end of June.

Along Westwood Boulevard in the village core, "For Lease" signs have popped up like fungi after a rain, and homeless men and women hunker down with blankets and stuffed plastic bags in the doorways of vacant storefronts. Long gone are Desmond's Clothing Store and Bullock's Westwood, which served as magnets for discriminating shoppers. All but one bookstore and many of the movie screens have left. As they have for years, merchants continue to bemoan the lack of easily accessible parking.

Westwood Village was launched in the late 1920s by Janss Investment Co., a large residential real estate developer run by brothers Harold and Edwin Janss and their father, Peter. In 1926, when UCLA chose a 384-acre section in a tract called Westwood Hills for its home, Harold Janss began preparing a meticulous plan for a commercial village.

He hired big-name architects and instructed them to hew to a Mediterranean theme, with clay tile roofs, decorative Spanish tile, paseos, patios and courtyards. Buildings situated at strategic points, including theaters and gas stations, incorporated towers to serve as beacons for drivers on Wilshire.

Janss selected the merchants, including many special boutiques, and determined where they would go. The village opened in 1929 with 34 businesses; a decade later, the Depression notwithstanding, there were 452.

James S. Rosenfield, who owns and leases properties in Westwood, said bringing the village back will take that same commitment to quality. The village's many large and small property owners have been unable to agree on reviving a defunct business improvement district, and that, he said, has hampered efforts to create a parking plan and clean up the village.

"Westwood has dug itself into a bit of a hole," he said. "People need to have a vision other than who will pay the highest rent. . . . If it's the seventh yogurt shop . . . arguably that's not the best thing to do."

Rosenfield spent years restoring the Brentwood Country Mart and is pushing for a similar approach in Westwood Village. "We need to make it look like it once did, with grassy, palm-lined medians and less concrete," he said. "If we think of it as this wonderful retail village, with wide sidewalks and wonderful shops, Westwood can be rejuvenated."

Over the years, powerful Westwood homeowner groups have defied developers who wanted to build hotels or turn Glendon Avenue into a pedestrian mall. The Casden project generated heated opposition from neighbors before winning city approval in 2004, and critics continue to decry its density.

But the strong desire to recapture the vibrancy of old helps explain why some neighborhood activists who battled to scale back the Palazzo now view it as a possible saving grace.

The 4.3-acre complex, with 50,000 square feet of retail, will soon welcome a Trader Joe's, a drugstore, a coffee shop and two eateries. And for the first year it will offer two hours of free parking to the public.

"I remain concerned that it's a very dense project," said Laura Lake, a longtime activist. "On the plus side, hopefully, there will be people all the time in the village."


May 6, 2008, 7:21 PM

Quick question about this pic. Where the T-mobile sign is now, did that use to be one of those grates? Will all of those black grates be replaced with store signage?

May 7, 2008, 1:47 AM
I'm surprised Westwood is mentioned as being in trouble. It may not compete with the Grove and Promenade for the yuppie and teen crowd, but it's still one of the better student neighborhoods (even with its lack of bars) and, apparently, a major factor in attracting high-school students to apply to UCLA.

If you want to see a real example of a struggling area near a major university, come visit downtown Berkeley!

May 9, 2008, 12:35 AM
yeah215, no, there weren't grates behind those signs. That was just blank stucco before.

Lot 44 Coffee

I popped into Lot 44 in the Douglas Building this morning and it seems very nice. I talked to the people working there (who I also assume own it) and they were very nice. They sell all organic coffees purchased mainly from fair trade areas, organic baked goods and fine organic chocolates. Even the no-calorie sweetener was organic. No cooked food at the moment, though they say that they've had a lot of people ask, so they're considering it.

The coffee I had was good - and strong - and the one baked good I tried, a gingerbread peach buttermilk bar, was amazing. Some pictures of the food:


And the chocolates, which have some pretty fine detail ingrained in them.


The back of the restaurant opens up into the building atrium, which will be shared by the Bistro, the Gallery and the Sushi restaurant, according to the plans I've seen. You can see the red walls of the Sushi restaurant on the left. It's a pretty nice space during the day.


May 30, 2008, 1:48 AM
I noticed the retail space on the NW corner of 6th & Olive in the historic Pacific Center building now has a big red "LEASED" sign slapped across it as of a couple days ago. Anyone know what this space will become? This is a big deal because of its very important location, right across from Pershing Square. :yes:

Jun 19, 2008, 8:01 AM
Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times
From the Los Angeles Times


Phillip Lim to open his first L.A. store
The 5,000-square-foot boutique on Robertson Boulevard will be the Orange County native's third store. It'll carry 90% of the men's and women's lines. But its true luxury? Parking.
By Emili Vesilind
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 15, 2008

PHILLIP LIM is coming home -- in style. Since launching his collection in New York three years ago, the Orange County native has become a bona fide fashion star. His chic, ladylike designs have a loyal following in the fashion world and Hollywood, and he scooped up an Emerging Talent award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America last year.

But Lim, who grew up in Westminster, says he will always be a SoCal boy at heart. And now he has a posh new store to prove it.

Opening on Friday, Lim's L.A. outpost is a major affair -- 5,000 square feet of next-generation luxury on Robertson Boulevard. It is his third store, following the first in SoHo last year and a second in Tokyo in April. The boutique will carry roughly 90% of the women's and men's collections.

"We might have more lighter colors or fabrics here," Lim said, strolling through the loft-like space. "But the customers are similar in their spirit and lifestyle." Prices for the women's fall line range from $195 for a blouse to $1,500 for a suede drop-shoulder cropped kimono jacket with hand embroidery.

The store will also stock Lim's sleek accessories, including sunglasses, belts, handbags and scarves, and his collection for girls, which shrinks runway looks to pint-sized proportions ($70 to $450).

Housed in a former auto shop, the boutique may be the swankiest padded cell ever erected. A series of undulating walls winds through the space, covered in the kind of spiky foam used in recording studios.

Dominic Leong, one of the architects, said the idea was to create different spaces using just a few curved walls. "In a lot of fashion boutiques, you walk in and consume everything all at once," he said. "This is trying to make it a more lasting experience."

Tucked into the wavy walls are bamboo-lined shelves and nooks for hanging clothes. Dressing rooms are spacious and also lined in bamboo, a fetching contrast against the store's industrial, lacquered concrete floors. Southern California sunshine filters through small, round skylights cutting through the vaulted ceiling like a sheet of cookie dough already poked through with holes.

The store's facade and barrier wall -- camouflaging a small parking lot, a true luxury on Robertson -- are lined in puffy gray concrete tablets shaped like the top of a loaf of bread (food isn't an official store motif, but it's one Lim is tickled by). Though the wall hides the storefront from the street, there are strategic holes cut into it so that passersby can catch an eyeful.

"It's like someone stole the bread!" said Lim, peering through one of the portals and laughing.

The store's covert facade and the monochromatic interiors reflect the designer's penchant for cool, understated design -- from neatly cut pencil skirts to sculptural car coats. "I didn't want a front window with mannequins in it," he said. Instead, "the front uses this idea of cleansing your palate before you go inside. The mystery is there."

Lim, 34, plans to open more stores in Japan, and perhaps another location in New York and one in the Midwest -- all part of his mission to balloon 3.1 Phillip Lim into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Shoes and a much-expanded collection of handbags and accessories are on the way.

He is one of a battery of high-end designers to open a boutique in L.A. recently -- a list that includes Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Helmut Lang. The risk of luxury saturation, coupled with the weak U.S. economy, would have some designers putting on the brakes. But Lim isn't worried.

"Right now in our stores, the customer is pickier than ever," he said. "You have to put out an honest product, now more than ever."


Phillip Lim, 631 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 358-1988.

Jun 19, 2008, 11:22 AM
I will admit that I love his line. Too bad I'm in Orange County...ew.

Jul 2, 2008, 11:46 PM
From the Los Angeles Times


Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times
OPENING: The Fresh & Easy on Rosecrans Avenue in Manhattan Beach is located across a parking lot from Trader Joe’s.

Fresh & Easy sets up shop a few paces from rival Trader Joe's
It's a coincidence, really, a spokesman says about the Manhattan Beach store, which opens today.
By Jerry Hirsch
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 2, 2008

When the British owner of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores launched the chain in Southern California last year, shoppers immediately started comparing it to Trader Joe's, a company that has long dominated the local small grocery store scene.

Beginning today they will go head-to-head in Manhattan Beach.

The rival stores are on the same street corner, separated only by an Office Depot, and that allows customers to check out both, make direct comparisons and -- with a little chutzpah -- even use the same shopping cart.

After a three-month hiatus, Fresh & Easy plans a rash of openings, starting with the store on Rosecrans Avenue. It will be the chain's 32nd store in the region; 70 more are planned for Southern California this year.

Joe Ewaskiw of Manhattan Beach is curious. "I have heard mixed reviews, but I am definitely going to check it out," he said while loading Trader Joe's groceries into his car while looking across the lot to Fresh & Easy.

"I love Trader Joe's great quality and prices. If Fresh & Easy can match that or beat it, it will really be interesting," he said.

Shoppers who have frequented both chains in different locations generally give each good reviews.

Bob Eicholz said he liked Fresh & Easy and Trader Joe's because they made shopping easier.

"We want decent prices, all the time, on all products. As a Fresh & Easy and Trader Joe's guy, I laugh when I enter Ralphs and Vons. I see outrageous prices on staples like cereal, and people fumbling with coupons to bring the prices down to where they should be anyway. Who needs this complexity?" said Eicholz, a Hollywood Hills resident.

Between the two, Eicholz gives Trader Joe's the nod.

Jeanne Barney, who lives in Hollywood, also has divided loyalties.

"Trader Joe's has a better selection of, and better prices on, cheese, packaged nuts, dried fruit and fruit juice," Barney said. But she likes the name-brand goods that Fresh & Easy offers as well as the ability to purchase "singles" at the stores -- one slice of cake, for example, or a single pork chop.

And unlike Eicholz, she prefers the prepared food at Fresh & Easy.

For now, Trader Joe's has the edge on Fresh & Easy in the Southern California grocery shopping landscape, said J. Elias Portnoy, chief strategist at brand marketing agency Portnoy Group.

"So far most people think Trader Joe's is a better place with better selection and more upscale choices at good prices." he said.

During its initial rollout, Fresh & Easy has been hampered by limited inventory, some poor choices of location and a dearth of higher-end food options, Portnoy said.

He believes the Fresh & Easy shopper is more budget-oriented and less sophisticated than the person who frequents Trader Joe's. Where Fresh & Easy can gain traction is in quality prepared foods, Portnoy said.

The Manhattan Beach Fresh & Easy is opening after a three-month break by the company to tweak the format, which has suffered from slow store traffic and sales, according to industry analysts.

During that time, the chain has introduced a wider array of in-store discounts and promotions:

* It has increased its range of products by more than 10%, adding more choices of soft drinks, breakfast cereals and prepared foods.

* It has tinkered with the look of its stores, which some shoppers found sterile, by adding color and signage.

* It also stepped up advertising and now offers shoppers a coupon for $5 off of any purchase of $20 or more.

"Some customers found the stores cold. . . . Some customers were asking for more choice. The way we do business is to listen to the customers," said Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy's marketing chief.

He said it was all part of developing Fresh & Easy as a brand in the Western U.S. And despite its slow start, there's no reason to expect Tesco to fold up shop and head back to England. The company has said it is prepared to spend $2 billion over five years to crack the U.S. market and is already planning an expansion into Northern California.

Uwins said the location of the Manhattan Beach store so close to Trader Joe's was not meant to be a message.

"The property came up. We wanted a store near our headquarters. There just happened to be a Trader Joe's nearby," Uwins said.

But some shoppers view the store's proximity as an aggressive maneuver by the El Segundo chain, which is owned by Tesco, one of the world's largest retailers.

"I am a loyal Trader Joe's fan and I am disturbed that Fresh & Easy would open up so close," said Tom Morgan, who lives in Manhattan Beach. "I am protesting in my own quiet way by never going in there."

Although Fresh & Easy and Trader Joe's compete with a wide range of grocery options in Southern California, including large chain supermarkets, hundreds of independent and ethnic grocers, warehouse stores and discounters such as Wal-Mart and Target, they are often grouped together because they are of similar size and have other common characteristics.

By year's end, they will have about the same number of stores in the region. Fresh & Easy will have about 100; Trader Joe's currently has 89.

Both have foreign owners. Trader Joe's, based in Monrovia, is owned by Theo Albrecht, who with his brother Karl created a German supermarket empire controlled by Aldi Group.

Employees of the two chains don't belong to unions. The companies don't accept product coupons. They don't have loyalty club cards. Their advertising is limited, and they are reticent when it comes to discussing their business.

For its part, Trader Joe's wouldn't even acknowledge the Fresh & Easy across the parking lot in Manhattan Beach.

"We at Trader Joe's are simply focused on getting better at what we do every single day," spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said. "We're not concerned about what other retailers say and do."


Mar 11, 2009, 4:54 AM
Scenes from London's Monocle shop via FWD

British culture journal Monocle's retail offshoot in London has been such a success that the magazine is opening a second store—and, in news that both surprises and pleases us, they've chosen LA as the new location, specifically 225 26th Street in Brentwood. According to Fashion Week Daily, the store "will feature new collaborations between the brand and designers, like the Comme des Garçons' Hinoki candle, a unique sweatshirt from Tomorrowland, and a high-tech running kit created with John Smedley." It opens April 6.

Apr 17, 2009, 6:20 PM
Nice places out there.....

Apr 17, 2009, 8:17 PM
Seeking shoppers in Westwood Village
The UCLA-adjacent area is ringed by affluent neighborhoods but has struggled for 20 years. An economic shot in the arm may be on the way.

Village devotees say the lack of a singular vision and the area's notoriously difficult parking are squelching any hope for a robust comeback. But a burst of construction activity promises to spur momentum.

great. how about a fucking subway?

Apr 20, 2009, 5:40 AM
Photo by Chris Polk

In tony Malibu, $195 cargo pants aplenty, but nary a hammer or nail
Upscale shopping centers are crowding out small retail stores in the once-sleepy beach community. Residents gripe at having to drive to Calabasas or Agoura for basics like tools and undies.
By Martha Groves

April 16, 2009

To understand the changes roiling once-sleepy Malibu, check out the new $25-million shopping center that finally opens Saturday at the junction of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road.

Shops such as James Perse and Tory Burch will sell $195 cargo pants and $310 sandals, along with gelato, cupcakes and dance lessons -- a far cry from the plywood and hammers sold at the Malibu Lumber Yard, which occupied the site for decades and will live on in the name of the shopping center.

At the Malibu Country Mart next door and Cross Creek Plaza across the street, rising rents and slumping sales are squeezing out mom-and-pop galleries, pet stores, hair salons and cobblers. Newer awnings trumpet names like Ralph Lauren and Juicy Couture.

The retailing ambience in Malibu, a city famed for its surfing and celebrities, is moving upmarket, and many Malibuites rue the prospect of having shops with $200 T-shirts but no one to resole their shoes.

"We'll be like Aspen and Vail, with no local businesses serving the community," said Jack Evans, a longtime resident. "We're only going to get national brands that want Malibu on their masthead, along with Beverly Hills and New York."

Steve Soboroff, a developer who sold Cross Creek Plaza two years ago, agrees that Malibu merchandising is "out of whack."

"The tone," he said, "needs to shift back a little from the classes to the masses."

It was Dick Van Dyke, a fan of the old lumber yard who lives in the private Serra Retreat community, who brought the issue of underwear out of the closet.

In an acerbic letter to the Malibu Times, he told of having to drive to Agoura and Calabasas to shop for a screwdriver and underwear, basics he could not find in Malibu's Civic Center area.

"It looks like a Rodeo Drive," Van Dyke said in an interview. "It was a beach town. Now they're trying to turn it into a resort."

That disturbs Heather Anderson, a 20-year resident. Although she recognizes that the city needs sales tax dollars, Anderson said, "I hate to see Malibu become a shopping destination when it used to be a surfing-swimming-beachy destination." Still, she welcomes the two new eateries that will be coming to the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping center, which she hopes will provide a safe hangout for her two teenagers.

The shopping center's developers, both local residents, hope so too. The two-story, open-air center will feature a central deck with lounge chairs and hammocks for children's activities, outdoor dining and wireless computer access. On the deck are three cylindrical saltwater aquariums featuring brilliant orange garibaldi imported from Mexico on a special permit and other species. An on-site "fish hospital" aims to ensure their health, said co-developer Richard Weintraub.

Weintraub's partner in the venture is longtime friend Richard Sperber, co-chief executive of ValleyCrest Landscape Cos. in Calabasas, which is mostly owned by computer maven Michael S. Dell.

Both said building a "green" project -- with plants suited to the coastal climate, wood from sustainable forests and decomposed granite in the parking lot instead of asphalt -- was a top priority. The builders also noted that they used "materials once produced at the Malibu Lumber Yard." Although they intended it as an homage to the beloved business, fans of the lumber yard, which closed a few years ago, view it as a mockery.

With no city wastewater system, Sperber and Weintraub had to build their own -- a $3.5-million operation that Weintraub said would make treated wastewater "cleaner than Fiji water."

In addition to luring J. Crew and the first branch of Melrose Avenue's celebrity-studded Maxfield clothing shop, the developers, at the city's request, reduced rates for a few locally owned businesses. One is the Dance Star studio, which Weintraub said would be "a great driver" as parents shop and dine while their kids do plies.

Like other shopping center developers who paid high prices when the Malibu real estate market was buoyant, Sperber and Weintraub are motivated to reap as much rent money as they can. Each year, they will be on the hook for more than $1 million in payments to the city, which will use the funds to pay down the debt it incurred to buy the adjoining Legacy Park property -- long known to locals as the chili cook-off site.

Across PCH, Malibu Colony Plaza is also undergoing change. Four years ago, E. Stanley Kroenke, husband of a Wal-Mart heir, bought the center and began raising rents. Rather than fork over more for his lease, Wolfgang Puck closed his popular Granita restaurant. It remains deserted and, in one resident's view, looks like a haunted mansion.

At the other end of PCH, in Malibu West, the Trancas Country Market is also slated for a dramatic makeover and expansion. After the new owners tripled his rent, Brian Pietro, owner of the Zuma Beach General Store, jettisoned the hardware he had sold and scaled down to the Beach Shack, selling T-shirts and beach gear.

Pietro said he applauds the proposal, soon to go before the city Planning Commission, for a "folksy and quaint" center with shops geared to residents. But he is skeptical.

"It's a swell plan," Pietro said, "but how is a little yogurt shop going to pay the rent they'll have to charge?"


Jun 22, 2009, 6:57 AM
From the Los Angeles Times

James Perse takes after designing dad, with a twist
Tommy Perse of Maxfield fame introduced a generation to the all-black look. Then his son helped usher in laid-back beach chic.
By Adam Tschorn

June 21, 2009

It's hard to imagine a father and son who have shaped Los Angeles fashion as profoundly -- and as differently -- as Tommy Perse and his son James.

In the 1970s, the elder Perse introduced the black-clad look to Southern California, through his influential West Hollywood store Maxfield.

In the '80s, Tommy Perse was the first to bring the collections of Giorgio Armani, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons to town. Today, the shelves of Maxfield are filled with bleeding-edge labels such as Rick Owens and Libertine. And the skull-loving retailer was mining that trend long before Ed Hardy forced it down the gangplank of passé.

A long-haired retail eccentric, Tommy Perse is known for his ring-festooned fingers, a penchant for all things black, and for conducting interviews in a Maxfield dressing room.

James Perse -- clean-cut, classically handsome and favoring jeans, T-shirts and slip-on Vans, is practically the polar opposite. His aesthetic is a laid-back beach luxe, exemplified by simple, solid and super-soft T-shirts that hug the body.

It's a look that defines many upscale Angelenos who've moved beyond the shredded, distressed, overwrought denim and tattoo-splattered tees of the last decade. And the appetite for his plain, unadorned $50 cotton jersey T-shirts and $195 French terry hoodies has fueled a Perse universe that now includes 11 stand-alone stores and product on shelves of boutiques (Scoop, American Rag) and department stores (Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York). James Perse says his empire had $80 million in sales last year, double what it was just four years ago.

Anita Ortiz, national merchandise manager of contemporary clothing for Nordstrom, the first department store to pick up the fledgling line seven years ago, says the line continues to grow in popularity "because it's a full lifestyle brand that represents a cool, casual L.A. lifestyle, that appeals to a customer beyond that base," adding that the line's continual evolution is a key to its success. The single T-shirt has been joined by kids clothes, bed linens, bicycles, surfboards and furniture. Oh, and there's a Baja boutique hotel on the drawing board too.

Monocle magazine recently dubbed James Perse's Beverly Hills boutique one of the world's top 20 retailers, and J.Crew Chief Executive Mickey Drexler is a fan. "In our business you know who's good out there -- who 'gets it,' " Drexler says. "He's one of the people in our industry who does good stuff. It's cool stuff, very modern, very connected. These aren't elitist goods. There's broad appeal."

Drexler is a fan of both generations. "I've always admired enormously what his father's done," he adds. "I guess there's DNA there from the dad [to the son]."

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, there is a distinct lineage that becomes apparent after you study the new James Perse flagship store at the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping center, wedged between the Malibu Country Mart and Pacific Coast Highway. The exterior of the 3,015-square-foot boutique is angular and black, with an uncanny similarity to the minimalist Maxfield facade.

James Perse, who professes an unhealthy fascination with architecture, said it was envisioned as a beach house. Along the front, louvered wooden shutter doors in black swing open to reveal warm blond wood and floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with his California-infused, understated clothing. A wooden deck attached to the store is filled with James Perse lounge chairs, and matte black and burnt orange-colored custom bicycles stand at attention in a rack near the front door.

Drexler, who knows a thing or two about retail environments himself, says Perse has a natural instinct, stocking his shelves with the kind of covet-worthy clothes you never know you want until you encounter them. "It's something inside of him. You look at the stores and you immediately emotionally connect."

Born in 1972, James Perse spent his early years bouncing around Los Angeles, Hancock Park and the Hollywood Hills.

"When I was growing up in the '80s, minimalist architecture was becoming very popular, and my dad was really into it, but it was museum-like and cold," he remembers. "At the same time I was growing up in sunny Southern California, going to the beach, calling our teachers by their first names -- a real casual lifestyle.

"At my dad's house you had to take your shoes off at the front doorstep. You didn't touch the walls. But when I lived with my mother -- they split when I was very young -- it was a different world. My mom's was comfortable, cozy and inviting. It was the total opposite."

His father's obsession with all things black was a constant theme. "No matter what it was, he'd make it black -- even if it was red brick with white he'd turn it into black brick with white, which was kind of hideous," says Perse. "Natural wood was never part of his vocabulary."

His aesthetic, Perse says, is a direct result of melding these two disparate influences. The spare minimalist lines form the bones of his stores, the shape of his clothes and the framework of his furniture. The warmth and sunny vibe of the California beach life are echoed in plush poplins, jerseys and twills; dresses that can survive being balled up at the bottom of a tote bag all day and still drape the female form as chicly as if they came right off the rack; and practically diaphanous T-shirts and hoodies with graphic word clouds of hyper-local beach names. (And really, where else can Dan Blocker Beach get a T-shirt shout-out?)

After high school, Perse went to Denison University in Ohio ("for like a minute," he says). He soon returned to the West Coast and enrolled in Santa Monica College. But course work failed to hold his attention the way a certain side project did.

"I couldn't find a baseball cap I liked," he explains. "I wasn't into the trucker shapes; the fabrics and logos that were on the market. I have a very specific idea of the way I want things to be, so I started developing one on my own."

At 19, Perse started crafting his own caps. "I made a Maxfield hat and put a little hang-tag on it with the name JP Classics and my phone number," he says. "That's when people shopping at my dad's store started noticing it."

One of his first coups was making hats for Martin Scorsese's 50th birthday party (thanks to a connection through a friend at CAA), which led to the launch of a merchandising company. Perse recalls that early customers included the Hard Rock Hotel ("Peter Morton was my hardest sell") and Joel Silver (wrap gifts for his 1995 movie "Fair Game).

Along the way, Perse noticed that, like the hats, there wasn't a T-shirt style that fit his aesthetic; the fabrics were too thick, the necklines too binding and the shapes were just a bit off for his taste. "At the time you couldn't find anything that was just a little more simple, a little more fitted. So I started experimenting with T-shirts."

In 1994, the James Perse brand launched with his luxurious take on the T-shirt, again starting on the shelves of Maxfield, spreading to boutiques around Los Angeles, then into Nordstrom and to the East Coast.

In 2003, James Perse opened his first boutique, literally in his father's retail shadow -- across Melrose Avenue from Maxfield's temple of minimalist luxe. So it's noteworthy that at some time in the next few months (store representatives wouldn't be more specific, and despite several attempts, Tommy Perse couldn't be reached to comment on his son's successes) the father is set to open the second Maxfield in the store's 40-year history just a crumpled T-shirt's toss away from his son's new store in Malibu.

"I was part of making that happen," Perse says. "I thought there would be a fun beach-chic interpretation of what he does." Then he adds with a chuckle: "Hopefully he'll make his son proud."


Oct 6, 2009, 2:00 AM
3½ months after I last posted in this thread, I stopped by the Malibu Lumberyard and snapped a few photos:

http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/7480/img1708x.jpg (http://img225.imageshack.us/i/img1708x.jpg/) http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/img1708x.jpg/1/w1014.png (http://g.imageshack.us/img225/img1708x.jpg/1/)

http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/4715/img1709f.jpg (http://img28.imageshack.us/i/img1709f.jpg/) http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/img1709f.jpg/1/w1014.png (http://g.imageshack.us/img28/img1709f.jpg/1/)

http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/8525/img1710o.jpg (http://img225.imageshack.us/i/img1710o.jpg/) http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/img1710o.jpg/1/w1014.png (http://g.imageshack.us/img225/img1710o.jpg/1/)

http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/1922/img1711q.jpg (http://img59.imageshack.us/i/img1711q.jpg/) http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/img1711q.jpg/1/w1014.png (http://g.imageshack.us/img59/img1711q.jpg/1/)