Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif.

Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif.


Glendale Galleria Unveils New Renovation


NEW LOOKS: The Glendale Galleria revamped everything from flooring to lighting for its renovation.

Glendale Galleria is unveiling the most extensive renovation in its 37-year history in Glendale, Calif., on Nov. 8.

A new Bloomingdale’s opened at the General Growth Properties–owned mall on Nov. 8, and there will be 32 new stores that will open around the same time in the mall, which is located some 10 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

A new 3,200-square-foot Kitson is scheduled to open at the Galleria the week of Nov. 15. Other prominent fashion stores will be BCBGMaxAzria, Porsche Design, Silver Jeans Co., Vilebrequin, Original Penguin and Boarders, as well as a 15,000-square-foot flagship for Pink, Victoria’s Secret’s sister brand. There’s also a 25,000-square-foot homewares and fixtures retailer, Pirch.

Larry Martin, the Glendale Galleria’s senior general manager, said that GGP spent in excess of $100 million in improving the mall, and the construction, which started in April 2012, took more than one year to complete. The renovation started out with basics of new flooring and walling. The mid-1970s-style brick walls were covered by drywall and painted white, which considerably brightened up what had been a shadowy mall. There is also new lighting in the retail center, which includes a big chandelier in the Macy’s Court.

There are several new elevators and escalators on the property. The elevator in the JC Penney Court could be a big attraction. It is made out of glass and is 60 by 40 feet and features an LED display screen that will show messages on mall events.


NEW STORE: Silver Jeans Co. is one of the new stores that opened at the Galleria. It held a debut party on Nov. 5.

A centerpiece of the renovation is the Central Plaza area, which is located across the street from neighboring mall The Americana at Brand. The façade of the Central Plaza is lined with black marble and features a new fountain. There’s a glass entrance to the mall in the Central Plaza, which showcases a sign bearing the new logo of the mall, which is the letter “G.” Adjacent to the plaza are brass letters that are over 9 feet tall and spell out “Glendale Galleria.” There is a new food court and a children’s play area at the 1.5 million-square-foot mall. The project’s architects were ELS Architecture and Urban Design of Berkeley, Calif., and Kevin Kennon Architects of New York City.

The Glendale Galleria’s new look represents a change in character for the city. In the early 20th century, it was considered the dull, middle-brow neighbor to the genteel town of Pasadena. (Glendale’s reputation was a source of considerable dialog and turmoil in the 1941 James M. Cain book “Mildred Pierce” as well as the 1945 Joan Crawford film of the novel.)

But over more than the past five years, the suburban town blossomed into a center for retail. A Glendale resident since 2008, Kelsi Smith produces the Los Angeles Fashion Council runway shows during LA Fashion Week and runs media company Stylesmith.“I’ve lived here for five years; it’s changed a lot,” she said. Wealthy people living on Los Angeles’ Eastside neighborhoods of Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park typically visit Glendale when they want to shop in high-marquee-name boutiques rather than the independent boutiques of Los Angeles’ Eastside. “If you live on the Eastside, [Glendale] is your shopping center. There is nothing closer. When I lived in Silver Lake, I’d go to Glendale three times a week.”

The city also draws consumer traffic from the well-to-do neighborhoods of Sherman Oaks, La Cañada Flintridge and Burbank, which is the address for corporate offices for Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros., said Lynne Sperling, a frequent Glendale visitor and owner of LS Consulting & Management, a retail and manufacturing consultancy. “It’s a hub of business and residential,” she said of Glendale.

But the area’s mix of retail had grown old in the past 15 years. The city of Glendale embarked on a renovation campaign. Open-air lifestyle center The Americana at Brand opened in 2008. Mall owner, developer and manager Caruso Affiliated brought stores such as Tiffany & Co. and Barneys New York Co-op and high-profile fast-fashion retailers such as Forever 21 and H&M to Glendale.

Major retail shuffle

In 2011, Caruso Affilliated’s Rick Caruso purchased the land under what was the former Nordstrom at the Glendale Galleria. In a unique deal, he announced plans to relocate Nordstrom to the Americana. After the purchase, Caruso sent GGP a letter criticizing the Galleria and pitching that they must work together to revamp it. In a 2011 conference call, GGP Chief Executive Sandeep Mathrani blamed the loss of the Nordstrom on GGP’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from which the company emerged in November 2010. During that time, GGP promised to spend more than $1 billion to upgrade its properties across the United States.

Since then, Nordstrom opened at the Americana in September. The 140,000-square-foot former space at the Galleria remains vacant. Liz Jaeger, a spokesperson for Caruso Affiliated, declined to comment on the property.

For the Galleria’s new tenants, it was the renovation that convinced them to move. Silver Jeans Co. recently opened a boutique near the Galleria’s new Bloomingdale’s. The company is headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, with creative and business offices in Southern California. Michael Silver, Silver’s chief executive officer, said the loss of the Nordstrom created a void at the Galleria. “It created a void of mid-tier luxury,” he said. “Now they brought it back. … Bloomingdale’s is a great anchor store for them. It elevates the whole mall in terms of its viability.” GGP’s investment in the Galleria and the caliber of the stores at the mall sealed the deal for Silver Jeans. Other Galleria anchors are Macy’s, Target and JCPenney.

The Galleria renovation also marks a return to Glendale for prominent retailer Kitson. It was one of the first stores to open at the Americana, but it left after a year because shoppers drastically curtailed spending during the Great Recession, said Fraser Ross, Kitson’s founder.

Ross agreed that Glendale has changed into a retail center. He also saw a niche for Kitson. “There were a lot of chain stores, not a lot of specialty stores,” he said. “Department stores can’t carry a lot of stuff that we can carry.” Ross described some of his merchandise as “controversial items in demand,” such as BLTEE by Brian Lichtenberg–brand T-shirts displaying the names of popular prescription drugs such as Vicodin.

The next month will be a time of great expansion for Kitson. It will open three stores, one in San Diego,oneat the Tom Bradley International Terminalat Los Angeles International Airport, and one in Portland, Ore.