(UPDATE, Aug. 27: Thanks to commenter Matthew, we’ve added new images showing the exterior changes being made to the former Harris’ building. Note the designs, however, have changed somewhat from what is depicted within the images — namely, the reversing of the exterior escalator.)
Construction has been underway for the past several months retrofitting the former Harris’/Gottschalks/Forever 21 department store building at Riverside Plaza. No official word yet on what stores will be taking up residence, but reports have it that Nordstrom Rack and Victoria’s Secret are among the likely tenants.
The retrofitting involves adding an exterior escalator ramp and carving up the space within the 168,000 square foot, 3-level building into smaller chunks. (Note: We’ve heard in the past that the structure was upwards of 204,000 square feet, possibly when including the basement.) So far, the ramp is in place out front and the interior has been completely gutted. Exterior repairs have been made as well. The stores within are expected to be in place in time for the holiday season.
The building opened as Harris’ in late September, 1957. It was the first large, suburban-style branch for the once-thriving San Bernardino-based retailer, which was acquired by Spain’s El Corte Ingles in 1981 and later by Fresno-based Gottschalks in 1998. After the Gottschalks chain closed down in July 2009, the building was snapped up by Los Angeles-based clothing retailer, Forever 21.
F21 cleaned the carpet, splashed some paint on the walls and quickly took up two of the building’s three floors (the third floor and basement were never opened). However, after just a few years, F21 closed the store in January 2013, which was not surprising based upon the lackluster rehab. It was also expected on account that F21 opened a new large-format store in November 2011 inside a completely renovated former Broadway/Macy’s building at Riverside’s Galleria at Tyler mall.
In a strange twist, however, F21 has actually returned to the Plaza, opening up a much smaller, 20,000 square-foot store inside the former Borders store. Unlike its larger sibling that occupied 90,000 square feet in the old Harris’ building, version 2.0 of F21 at the Plaza looks like a fully-renovated store. Thus, we venture this smaller version is here to stay.
Elsewhere at the Riverside Plaza, the former Spoons/Herschel’s Deli/Riverside National Bank building, is awaiting demolition. The building was originally constructed in 1965 for Riverside National Bank, which used it until moving to 3484 Central Avenue around 1986/87 (Beverly Hills-based City National Bank later acquired Riverside National Bank in 1997). Herschel’s Deli, which was started by Denny’s founder Harold Butler, renovated the former bank building and occupied it for about two years. Spoons came in afterwards, lasting several years, but the building has recently been mostly vacant.
Also, portions of the Plaza’s main corridor are currently fenced off, undergoing what is being termed “Main Street Revitalization.” It’s unclear exactly what the revitalization entails, but for now, sections of the pedestrian-friendly area are being ripped up and presumably replaced with upgraded seating and landscaping.
At any rate, we’re curious to see how the revitalization ends up and we’re glad to see the reuse of the 1957 Harris’ building. And although we think both Nordstrom Rack and Victoria’s Secret will be welcomed additions to the Plaza, we had hopes that Ikea or Dillard’s would take a liking to the large building. Likewise, we’re still hoping that Apple somehow manages to “discover” Riverside on its retail map. It would seem logical that if Riverside is good enough for a full-line Nordstrom (at the Galleria since 1990, btw) and now, a Nordstrom Rack, not to mention the fact there’s a 21,000 student University of California campus here as well, then surely Riverside is good enough for an Apple Store. Where are you Apple??? (And for that matter, where are you Ikea? Absolutely no Inland stores? Really??)
Speaking of the Galleria at Tyler, that center is reportedly undergoing a bit of a “facelift” as well. Work on the $2 million plan is expected to be completed in October. We stopped by recently. The place was busy as usual, but we failed to notice any discernible “facelifting” taking place, excepting maybe some new black carpeting. However, one thing we’d like to see the center address is its generic 1990s “everymall, anymall” look. (The mall opened as a single-level mall in 1970; a second level was added in 1990, resulting in the current generic and bland look.) Keep the skylights, but add some color and interest to the exposed trusses as well as to the main corridor below (who remembers the old bark-filled planters that were decorated for Christmas?).
Also said to be forthcoming at the Galleria is the demolition of the former Just Tires building. It originally opened along with the mall in 1970 as The Broadway tire center, but has been empty since at least 2009. As of now, the building is still standing. But reports have it coming down soon to make way for two eateries, one of which is rumored to be Chipotle. We’ll try and keep an eye out for that development.
Riverside Press-Enterprise – Changes at Riverside Plaza (August 2013) | Demolishing Just Tires at Tyler for new restaurants (July 2013) | New tenants in empty Forever 21 building (July 2013) Forever 21 moving into empty Borders (June 2013) | The Galleria at Tyler getting $2 million overhaul (June 2013)
RaincrossSquare.com – Forever 21 closes Riverside Plaza store (Jan. 2013) | Forever 21 completes move — and makeover — at Galleria at Tyler (Nov. 2011) | Riverside’s Galleria at Tyler mall turns 40 (Oct. 2010) | Forever 21 at Riverside Plaza (Aug. 2009) | (Harris’) Gottschalks gone (July 2009) | Razed, Rebuilt, Revived (Dec. 2005)
Sources: The Press-Enterprise / archives (RP-19571017, RP-19551221, PE-19701011, PE-19970118)