Americana at Brand at 5

It’s a $60 million birthday gift.

For the fifth anniversary of The Americana at Brand retail center in Glendale, Calif., developer Rick Caruso, founder of Caruso Affiliated, announced April 24 that he will invest $60 million to build new landscaping, lighting and services for his already very successful retail center. The Americana makes $1,100 per square foot annually, three times the national average for mall sales, Caruso said.

Caruso, who also developed The Groveretail center in Los Angeles, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2012, gave more details on The Americana’s full-line Nordstrom, which is scheduled to open Sept. 20 and will represent a new design concept for the Seattle-based retailer.

He also announced that Taiwanese-headquartered restaurant Din Tai Fung, which was honored with a Michelin award in 2010, will open a location at The Americana on Sept. 15. Also, award-winning chef Michael Mina will open a Bourbon Steak restaurant at The Americana in early 2014. Din Tai Fung served its famous dumplings at the gala press conference at an apartment owned by Caruso in a 242-unit luxury complex at The Americana. The retail center also is the address to 100 condominiums, which have been entirely sold.

The new landscaping and tenants also will help revitalize Glendale’s sprawling Brand Boulevard, Caruso said. “Brand Boulevard will be one of America’s greatest shopping and dining streets,” he said.

Much of the mall improvements are planned to run along Brand Boulevard, between Colorado Street and toward West Broadway, and on the retail center’s Caruso Avenue. New landscaping will feature potted plants, trees and flowers. There also will be more lighting, as well as speakers playing upbeat Rat Pack–era and new pop music, which is the soundtrack for Caruso properties. Americana bell captains and valets also will be assigned to the street to park cars and hold packages for Americana guests while they undertake a big shopping expedition, said Dave Williams, executive vice president of architecture at Caruso Affiliated. “We’re doing anything to make it cleaner, safer and more lush,” he said.

The upcoming Nordstrom will offer a glass exterior, which will be a new look for the retailer. The Grove’s Nordstrom, which is being remodeled, will enjoy a similar look. Both stores will introduce a new restaurant concept called Bar Verde. The full-service restaurant will serve produce and meats that are local, fresh and produced in season.

The Americana has changed Glendale, said Tom Lorenz, a spokesperson for the city. Before The Americana opened in 2008, the local streets were empty after 6 p.m. In recent years, people are coming to Glendale for entertainment and dining, and they spend money at local businesses well into the night. Post 2008, more businesses have moved to downtown Glendale. The city’s planning department recently approved a Hampton Inn hotel, to be built at the corner of Brand and Colorado. The Museum of Neon Art will open a facility in downtown Glendale in 2014.

To further drive sales, The Americana must increasingly develop a tourist business, said Fraser Ross, founder of the influential Kitson chain of boutiques. Kitson was one of the first tenants of The Americana but moved out in 2009. “The space wasn’t our market,” Ross said.

“You need a tourist trade today,” he said. “Locals in every city shop online. They shop in [physical stores] when they are traveling. The mindset is different these days.”

The retail center hopes to increase its tourist business, said Julie Jauregui, the senior general manager at The Americana.