Forever 21 completes move — and makeover — at Galleria at Tyler

Forever 21 completes move — and makeover — at Galleria at Tyler

Following 5 years of vacancy — and several months of renovation work — the former Broadway / Macy’s department store at Riverside’s Galleria at Tyler mall is once again occupied.

1970 - The Broadway*

Last weekend, the doors to the distinctive building reopened as Forever 21 relocated its smaller inline mall store into the much larger pad located at the north end of the enclosed center.

We’re glad to see the building back in use. As we’ve previously stated, the building’s cantilevered (one | two)* style of architecture showcases department store design from a now bygone era. Designed by Los Angeles-based architectural firm of Charles Luckman & Associates, the 164,000 sq. ft. store originally opened as The Broadway in 1970 as part of the then newly-built Tyler Mall.

2006 - Macy's

For 26 years, The Broadway nameplate remained atop the iconic 3-story building. It was replaced by Macy’s in 1996 after Federated Department Stores acquired Carter Hawley Hale Stores (parent company of The Broadway). In 2006, Federated again acquired a competing chain, this time May Department Stores. The acquisition resulted in Macy’s relocating into the Galleria’s freeway-friendly Robinson’s-May building, leaving the former Broadway pad vacant — until last Saturday.

2011 - Forever 21

This past July, Los Angeles-based Forever 21 began remodeling the vacant building. After seeing a similar move two years earlier by F21 into the former Harris’ / Gottschalks department store at Riverside Plaza, we were a bit unsure what to expect. That particular “remodel” appeared to be not much more than carpet cleaning, a few splashes of paint and some signage. Passable, but certainly not a full makeover.

However, results at the Galleria remodel are remarkably different. On the outside, the building looks as good as ever. All three exterior entrances were remade, including a sleek makeover of the north entrance, which essentially turned the space into a large window display (something sorely missing in today’s retail environment).

2011 - Mall entrance

The interior remodel includes a clean and crisp design with touches of old-school department store flair. Though somewhat sparse in the middle sales floor areas, the makeover retained much of the former Broadway’s “department store” partitions, particularly on the second floor.

Overall, we’re pleasantly surprised with the makeover. The most jarring aspect was the remodeling of the escalator bank. The new look completely opened up the space by removing interior walls that had partially enclosed the escalators. Gone is the overhead lighting and interesting 1970s tiling that once lined the escalator walls. But more interesting is the disappearance of the escalators to the third floor. Published reports indicate F21 is occupying 106,000 of the building’s 164,000 square feet, which begs the question — what’s going on up on level three?

2011 - First level

Also unclear is how space for the former California Room restaurant that was part of the original Broadway store (and for which exterior windows are still visible) is being used. It’s possible it may have been gutted under Macy’s reign, but we’re not sure.

In addition to the “missing” third floor, one other missing aspect left us scratching our heads. As part of its grand opening in 1970, The Broadway had placed a time capsule just outside the north entrance. For years, shoppers walked atop a metal plaque exclaiming that it was to be opened in 100 years (2070). However, as part of the remodeling of the north entrance, the time capsule is now gone. Where did it go? And what was in it?

2011 - Second level

Finally, yet to be answered is what will become of the Forever 21 currently at the Riverside Plaza. Speculation has F21 not renewing their lease for the former Harris’ / Gottschalks building across town, which is said to expire in September 2012. And based upon the much more permanent makeover given to the Galleria store, that outcome seems likely.

And if so, what would happen to the Plaza building? Relocating Riverside’s stand-alone Sears could be one option (though that could then leave the Charles Luckman & Associates designed Sears building in peril). But with fewer traditional department stores around these days, other options — including demolition — are possible.

However, we suppose the building’s 204,000 square feet could entice a large, non-department store retailer the likes of Ikea, which could be a good fit. The Swedish retailer has no Inland locations and has previously refurbished a former 3-story department store at a Carson mall in Los Angeles County. So maybe doing the same at Riverside Plaza is indeed plausible?

Photo Gallery: The Broadway / Macy’s / Forever 21

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Images courtesy of: * Jim Van Schaak

Sources: Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, General Growth Properties, WikiPedia

5 comments on: Forever 21 completes move — and makeover — at Galleria at Tyler

  1. jason November 16, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    The only big problem I see with getting Ikea into the Harris building at Riverside Plaza would be regarding the style compatibility between the two entities. Pretty much every Ikea building I’ve come across is streamlined blue and yellow. Ikea would likely tear down the Mid Century Modern textures and the newer “ornate” additions added during the plaza’s latest remodel. I would hope they wouldn’t, but Ikea’s branding is very bold and very strong, and that alone has contributed very much to their success. But who knows, maybe they would consider trying something different here if the scenario ever actually presented itself. Certainly a challenge for an architectural designer out there somewhere.

  2. RXSQ November 17, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    @Jason — Yes, Ikea’s very identifiable and overly bold style of covering their buildings with their trademark blue/yellow paint scheme would be a concern. And certainly, we wouldn’t want to see any of the building’s mid-century textures and designs removed. But with only a few retailers remaining that could even consider such a large building, we’d be willing to entertain the idea (if indeed it were to ever materialize).

    On a related note, we think Forever 21’s semi-recent makeover of the former Broadway at Inland Center mall in San Bernardino was done very nicely as well. Also, Kohl’s did a great job a couple years back keeping intact the mid-century textures of another former Broadway in Huntington Beach (at Bella Terra mall).

  3. Alyssa May 14, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Oh the third floor isn’t open for many reasons, such as construction & safety hazards.

  4. Steven July 24, 2019 at 1:06 PM

    I was hired at Forever 21 in Fresno in 2014 and worked there for a few years. I was always fascinated by the building’s design, so unique and doesn’t look like an old/tired building. I still find it fascinating that at the time of Fresno’s Forever 21 opening, it was the largest ever built, 164,000 sq. ft, with all three floors open. Well after one year, the third floor was closed so it was essentially the same size as Riverside, perhaps larger as some of the dock space was converted to floor space.

    I was actually insanely surprised to find out this building had a sister store in Riverside and then Citrus Heights! It’s a beautiful design and I am glad it was replicated (not sure which location actually came first).

    Nonetheless, me being a retail history fan, I visited the Riverside location recently. It was exciting to be in the “same building” with a different design. I had fun studying the differences between Fresno and Riverside.

    I do wonder however, when did they removed the Riverside North Entrance wall? Also, Why did they never open the third floor in Riverside? I wonder if they had plans to do that, but cancelled them, or if it was always meant to be two floors. I also wonder what it looks like up there. Macys? Gutted? Incomplete Forever 21? Wish I could get a glimpse!

  5. RXSQ October 18, 2019 at 12:42 PM

    Steven, thanks for the comment.

    Yes, this unique store design by Charles Luckman & Associates of Los Angeles was used (as best we can tell) only three times: Fresno (Weinstock’s), Riverside (The Broadway), and Citrus Heights (Weinstock’s) in the Sacramento area. Both Fresno and Riverside opened in 1970 with Citrus Heights opening in 1972. We’re not certain, but it appears Fresno may have opened about a month before Riverside did in October 1970.

    Regarding the third floor in Riverside, it was used by The Broadway from day one and by Macy’s upon takeover in 1996. It was never out of service. However, when Forever 21 completely refurbished the store for its 2011 opening, it had removed the escalators to the third floor and sealed off the opening. A salesclerk said that the area was basically being used for storage. This removal of the escalator bank to the third floor was the most shocking and disappointing aspect of what was otherwise a very nice refurbishment of the building by F21.

    The north entrance expansion/remodel was also part of F21’s refurbishment of the building. The remaking of the entrance was done well, with the design fitting nicely with the building’s modern look. Our only question is — what happened to the time capsule that was placed in the ground on that spot (and now covered up)? It was placed there in 1970 by The Broadway with a plaque stating it would be opened in 100 years (2070). Where did the contents go? We have seen a similar time capsule plaque for The Broadway’s 1966 store in Las Vegas (at Boulevard Mall). So, it appears this was a common item for stores built at the time by The Broadway (and likely Weinstock’s as well). It’d be interesting to find out how many of these time capsules were placed as well as find out how many actually remain.

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