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New Santa Monica mall going for the upscale

July 31, 2010 |  2:20 pm

Santa Monica Place

Since designing Santa Monica Place mall more than three decades ago, Frank Gehry has become a world-renowned architect and Santa Monica has become one of the most lively and thriving beach cities.

The suburban-style mall, however, languished in time, walled off from the increasingly vibrant street life.

Now a developer is betting the shopping center can become hip again. Macerich Co. spent $265 million to rip the mall at Third Street and Broadway down to its steel foundations and rebuild it as a three-story outdoor shopping venue.

Next Friday, after more than two years behind construction barriers, the new Santa Monica Place will open to the public.

Because of the still-challenging economic environment, it will be one of only a few major shopping centers in the U.S. to open in 2010. What's more, the 550,000-square-foot Santa Monica Place will be decidedly upscale.

It will have Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's department stores, white-tablecloth restaurants, a food market and a mix of mostly high-end retailers. It will in effect extend the popular adjacent shopping district, the Third Street Promenade, another block.

The old mall, anchored by Macy's, performed above industry standards, said Arthur Coppola, chief executive of Macerich, but sales fell far short of what they could have been. The affluent Westside — even with all its pricey boutiques and fine restaurants — is "under-served" with luxury shopping opportunities, he reckoned.

"It was a very ambitious plan to shut down a regional shopping center already [grossing] $400 a square foot" every year, Coppola said, "but it had the opportunity to be so much more."

Read the full story here.

-- Roger Vincent

Photo: “It was a very ambitious plan to shut down a regional shopping center already [grossing] $400 a square foot” in sales each year, said Arthur Coppola, CEO of developer Macerich Co. "But it had the opportunity to be so much more.” Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times