Results tagged “plaza” from Raincross Square

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July 2011
Renovation work

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July 2011
Mall entrance

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October 1970
The Broadway
(Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak)

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2006
Macy's

After nearly 5 years of being vacant, renovation work has begun on the former Broadway/Macy's department store at the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside. Unofficial reports have clothing retailer Forever 21 relocating from a smaller store elsewhere in the mall into the much larger, 3-story building.

Opening with the then-Tyler Mall in 1970, the 164,000 sq. ft. store for The Broadway was designed by Los Angeles-based architectural firm of Charles Luckman & Assoc. The building's cantilevered (one | two)* style of architecture showcases department store design from a now bygone era.

Also of note was the store's original interior, which had a bit of late 1960s flair. Designed by Jim Van Schaak, it was honored as "Department Store of the Year" in the national "Store Interior Design" competition.

In 1996, The Broadway chain -- and its sister stores, Emporium and Weinstock's -- was purchased by Federated Department Stores, becoming part of Federated's Macy's West division. As with most stores in the newly-acquired chain, the Riverside location was re-branded as a Macy's.

In 2005, Federated purchased May Department Stores, parent of several regional chains, including Robinson's-May, Marshall Field's, Foley's, Filene's and Caldor. This resulted in duplicate properties at several malls, including at Riverside's Galleria at Tyler. As such, the Riverside Macy's relocated in late 2006 across the mall into the Robinson's-May building (2000 | 2006), leaving the former Broadway building vacant.

Recently, work began on renovating the vacant Broadway space. Associates at the mall have indicated the building is being spruced up for Forever 21, which currently occupies a much smaller store within the mall.

Established in 1984, Forever 21 has been on a major expansion the past few years. The Los Angeles-based clothing chain has been gobbling up several vacant department stores, a departure from its typical small-store format.

One such large store is the former Harris' / Gottschalks building at Riverside Plaza (one | two | three). With three floors (plus basement) and 204,000 total square feet, it's one of the largest buildings in the Forever 21 chain. However, only two of the building's three above-ground floors are currently in use (one | two | three | four).

Which begs the question -- will Forever 21 keep both large-format stores open?

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1973
Tyler Mall
The Broadway**
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2006
Vacant Macy's
(former Broadway)
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2007
Vacant Macy's
(former Broadway)


* Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak
** Courtesy of Patricksmercy

Sources: Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, Wikipedia, Jim Van Schaak


3521 Central Avenue - Jack in the Box

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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue, Riverside


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2010
3521 Central Avenue
(Google Maps)

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1951
Jack in the Box, San Diego
(Jack in the Box, Inc.)

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1950s
Jack in the Box, Mark I
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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1960s
Jack in the Box, Mark II
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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1960s
Jack in the Box, Mark III
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue

Dating from the late 1960s, one of the oldest Jack in the Box fast food restaurants in Riverside is no more. Though certainly not a structure worthy of historic merit, we thought we'd take this opportunity to look back at the whimsical designs of the original Jack in the Box (JITB) restaurants.

According to the company's website, the first JITB was opened by Robert Oscar Peterson in San Diego in 1951. An outgrowth of Peterson's earlier "drive-in" diners called Topsy's and later Oscar's, JITB is said to have pioneered the use of drive-thru service using an intercom ordering system. (Those who lived in Southern California prior to 1980, may remember placing orders at JITB via a "talking clown.")

By 1966, the chain had grown to 180 locations, mostly in California and the Southwestern U.S. In 1968, Peterson -- whose Foodmaker, Inc. ran the restaurants -- sold the chain to Ralston Purina Co., who remained the owner until 1985.

It was during Ralston Purina's ownership in which "Jack" -- the clown atop the drive-thru menus -- was "blown up" as part of an extensive television campaign in 1980. The makeover was an effort to broaden the chain's appeal with adults. In 1994, after several years in isolation, "Jack" returned as the chain's spokesperson during the "Jack's back" advertising campaign, a role he retains to this day.

Back to the two oldest Riverside locations. The city's planning database indicates permits for 3521 Central Avenue (near the Riverside Plaza) and 3434 Fourteenth Street (downtown) were issued in 1968. According to the permits, both locations were two stories in height with 1175 and 1776 square feet respectively (though they look to be the same size) and a value of $24,000 each.

The architect listed on the permit for the downtown location (and presumably, the Plaza location as well) is Donald D. Goertz. A quick search of the Internet found an American Institute of Architects (AIA) entry for Donald Dean Goertz, who's also listed in the AIA's archives as being a staff architect for Foodmaker, Inc. beginning in 1967.

Based upon what we've found, the earlier JITBs offered both walk-up and drive-thru service, but no interior dining. The exterior designs used bright colors and fonts popular during the 1950s and 1960s to emphasize the drive-thru and overall "box" aspect of the JITB name. A San Diego website specializing in mid-century architecture lists Russell Forester as the architect for these early designs.

We're not clear on whether the two Riverside locations built in 1968 sported these original whimsical designs. It's likely they didn't, primarily due to the different architects used. However, it's possible they may have sported at least some form of the earlier designs -- particularly that of the Mark III concept -- as their current "mansard" look conforms to that found on many early SoCal JITB locations since remodeled (Chula Vista, San Clemente, San Diego). Maybe someone can confirm what the original designs for the two Riverside locations were like?

As for the Central Avenue location, we were unable to confirm that a new JITB will replace the now-demolished structure. However, the demolition permit seems to indicate a new JITB is indeed on its way. Browsing the company's website, we found what appears to be the latest prototype (notice the use of "Santee" indicating the restaurant's location -- could this be a future JITB motif?).

Update 04/16: Construction of a new JITB is well underway.

Update 08/06: The new JITB reopened in late July.

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Change in logo
(Jack in the Box)
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Old school
menu*


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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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May 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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May 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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June 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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June 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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July 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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July 2011
3521 Central Avenue


* Courtesy of www.burningsettlerscabin.com

Sources: Jack in the Box Inc., City of Riverside, ModernSanDiego.com, Wikipedia, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Los Angeles Times


Riverside's Galleria at Tyler mall turns 40

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1970
Press-Enterprise special section
RPL


In a fanfare of Spanish fashioned pageantry, Riverside's new Tyler Mall will be trumpeted to a formal opening tomorrow morning, the 64-acre shopping center adding $40 million stature to the city's retail sphere. It is the first mall-under-roof in the city.

That's how the local newspaper -- The Press-Enterprise -- described the city's new retail mecca 40 years ago in an October 11, 1970 special section highlighting the mall's grand opening.

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1976
GRCC

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1976
Tyler Mall
GRCC

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2006
Galleria at Tyler

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2010

At over 800,000 sq. ft., the indoor Tyler Mall (now Galleria at Tyler) was nearly double the size of the city's other major shopping center, the outdoor Riverside Plaza, which opened as the Inland area's first regional shopping center in 1956/57. The new mall's developer and general contractor was Ernest W. Hahn of Los Angeles. The architect was Jon Jerde of Burke, Kober, Nicolais and Archuleta, A.I.A., Los Angeles.

Joining anchors The Broadway* and JCPenney** were more than 80 stores (including a two-level, 61,000 sq. ft. Woolworth's) stretched along a 1,000 foot-long, single-level corridor. Parking for 5,000 cars surrounded the mall. The opening of the third major anchor, May Co.,*** was delayed until July 1973.

Some of the mall's initial tenants included standard national and regional chains of the time: Kinney Shoes, See's Candies, Singer Sewing Co., Weisfield's Jewelers, Swiss Colony, Fashion Conspiracy, Thom McAnn Shoes, The Show-Off, Ardens and Gallenkamp Shoes. Also present were a few smaller chains and local shops, including Tinder Box (which remains today), Jeanne's, Kirk Jewelers and Cheney's Music (which relocated from downtown Riverside where it had been since 1944).

The mall also included several outparcel pads, including JCP and Broadway tire centers, a gas station, Howard Johnson's Restaurant, United California Bank (currently Wells Fargo), Anaheim Savings, and United Artists Theaters, which originally opened as a twin theater before quickly doubling to four. It stood where Barnes & Noble is today.

Many of the original stores and chains have long since been replaced. Probably the most missed tenant of all, however, is Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour, which faced Magnolia Avenue** near where Yard House stands today. (Ordering "the Zoo" at Farrell's was standard practice during kids' birthday parties in the 1970s and early 1980s.)

In May 1990, work began on a major expansion that included a fourth department store (Nordstrom), second level of shops and two parking garages. When the grand reopening took place on October 17, 1991, the mall had a new name -- Galleria at Tyler. At the time, plans had been approved for up to two more department stores (for a total of six***), but the 1993 merger of J.W. Robinson's with May Co. -- forming Robinson's-May -- scuttled at least one of those. Subsequent mergers has seen Macy's replace both The Broadway (1996) and Robinson's-May (2006), the latter resulting in the vacancy of the former Broadway building.

Today, the Galleria at Tyler sports over 170 stores and 1.2 million leaseable space. Modest outparcel expansions took place in 2001 (Barnes & Noble) and 2006/2007 (AMC Theaters, Yard House, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang's, Elephant Bar and Robbins Bros.). In 2008, the center's large, freeway-visible sign was replaced. It had last been updated in 1991, which was a replacement for the original 1970 version*). The sign was updated again in 2010 with the addition of the center's major anchors.

A more in-depth look at the mall and how it came about can be found here: Then & Now - Galleria at Tyler

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Related


* Courtesy of Donahue-Schriber
** Courtesy of RPL
*** Courtesy of Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library, Donahue-Schriber, General Growth Properties, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce


Forever 21 at Riverside Plaza

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This weekend marked the grand opening of Forever 21 clothing stores inside former Gottschalks/Harris' buildings at Riverside Plaza and Hemet Valley Mall. The stores are part of the Los Angeles-based retailer's aggressive growth plans that includes new large-format stores, many of which are currently taking up residence within former Mervyn's and Gottschalks stores.

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2009
Forever 21

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1964
Harris'

In excess of 50,000 sq. ft. -- well above the majority of the chain's existing mall stores, most of which are under 10,000 sq. ft. -- these larger stores will include a wide-ranging mix of clothing and accessories for both men, women and youth. More recently, the chain began opening 20,000 sq. ft. stores, including a location at The Shoppes at Chino Hills.

Initially, the Riverside location will take up 90,000 sq. ft. on two levels of the 204,000 sq. ft., 3-story store, which opened in 1957 as Harris'. Future plans call for possible expansion into some of the third floor, likely making it one of the largest stores in the chain. What will eventually become of the unused portions of the building -- including a basement -- remain unknown.

Earlier this year, the chain opened a large-format store in a former Mervyn's store in Victorville. A fourth Inland Southern California store is expected to open later this fall inside a former 3-story, Macy's/Broadway department store at Inland Center mall in San Bernardino. Once fully occupied, it will likely rival the Riverside location in eventual size.

It'll be interesting to watch how these new large-format stores evolve -- and perform -- for the mostly youth-oriented clothing chain. At the very least, the re-using of the former Gottschalks/Harris' (Riverside) and Macy's/Broadway (San Bernardino) have forestalled any potential demolition of the mid-century department store buildings.

Previous

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Plaza, City of Riverside


(Harris') Gottschalks gone

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July 2009
Store closing

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July 2009
Sign says it all

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July 2009
Final day

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1964
Back in the day

This past weekend saw the end of an era as Fresno-based Gottschalks closed for good on Sunday. For local folks, this also means an end to what once was the remnants of San Bernardino-based The Harris Co., which operated 7 department stores across Inland Southern California before the chain was sold to Gottschalks in 1998.

At the Riverside Plaza location, shoppers crowded parts of the first floor to buy merchandise that had been reduced up to 95% in the store's final days. Also up for sale were fixtures and even signage. Other areas of the selling floor had already been stripped bare of most merchandise.

The 3-story (plus basement) store will be transformed into a large-format Forever 21, which is expected to open sometime in August. Yet to be made public is exactly how much of the 204,000 sq. ft. former Gottschalks will be used by Forever 21. It's possible sub-leasing might take place.

As for both Gottschalks and Harris', what began in 1904 and 1905 respectively, is now history. The story behind both chains offer similar parallels, each having been founded by newly immigrated German families (Emil Gottschalk and Philip, Herman and Arthur Harris respectively).

Although Gottschalks grew much faster as a chain in the post-war years relative to Harris', both chains remained independently owned for many decades, thriving on local control and insights. For Harris', this led to a very loyal customer base, becoming what many considered the Marshall Field's of the Inland region.

By 1981, however, the smaller Harris' chain was facing stiffer competition against the larger department stores. It was at this time that third-generation members of the Harris family decided to sell the Inland Southern California chain to Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles.

And by the time of their 1998 merger -- in which the 7 local Harris' stores were re-branded as Harris'-Gottschalks -- both chains were beginning to struggle against the national department stores and discount chains. Within 10 years, signs of possible selling off to larger chains began to surface at Gottschalks, none of which managed to fully materialize. As such, it was a dire economy that finally ended the chain for good as Gottschalks filed for bankruptcy in early 2009.

In today's mega-franchise retailing environment, such personalized regional chains are a rarity (and likely to become even more so). And with Sunday's closure of the 58-store Gottschalks chain -- most of which were located in California -- the last remnants of Harris' is no more as well.

Related

Previous

Update

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July 2009
Last day!
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July 2009
Empty cases
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July 2009
Clearing out
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July 2009
Display sales


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July 2009
Escalator up
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July 2009
Nothing left
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July 2009
RIP
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July 2009
'H' for Harris'



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Fresno Bee, Riverside Plaza, "The Harris Company" (Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Hanks, Robin S. Hanks)


Local malls holding their own

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On the heels of the worst holiday shopping season since 1969, the nation's retail landscape is likely headed for moderate changes as weak and battered retailers file for bankruptcy protection, close stores and/or shut down entirely. The transformation could see shoppers, both nationally and locally, greeted in the coming months with more than a few empty storefronts lining the halls and pathways of their favorite malls and shopping centers.

Thus far, former retail giants Circuit City, Mervyn's and KB Toys have each announced full closures, while regional department store Gottschalks recently filed for bankruptcy protection. Though the closures of the former have affected nearly every mall nationwide, Gottschalks -- if forced to close -- could spell additional trouble locally as the Fresno-based retailer has anchor stores at 7 area malls. (It could also bring a final end to a local retail empire that began in 1905 as The Harris Company).

Another potentially large impact locally is whether national mall owners will shed some or all local malls as they struggle under the weight of debt during a very tight credit market. With the possibility of reorganization on the horizon, Chicago-based General Growth Properties -- owner of four local malls, including three of the region's largest -- in particular could add additional stress to the local retail scene.

So, where does this recent -- and potentially future -- turbulence leave local malls? Let's take a closer look at each.


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2006
Carousel Mall

Carousel Mall - San Bernardino

For all intents and purposes, this mall is already dead. Opened with great fanfare as Central City Mall in 1972, the 37-year-old, Victor Gruen-designed center began its decline in the mid-1990s, not long after being rechristened as the Carousel Mall. In 2000, the flagship Harris' department store closed (it had opened independently in 1927). The remaining anchors, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney departed soon thereafter (2002 and 2003 respectively). Although a planned mixed-use redevelopment has stalled, it's not likely the few remaining stores will survive the current retail environment.


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2001
Redlands Mall

Redlands Mall

Tiny by mall standards, the Redlands Mall is likely to be the next area mall to fall -- particularly if General Growth Properties reorganizes and/or Gottschalks closes. Such a closure would leave the 32-year-old mall without its only department store. However, this may not be such a bad thing as it could expedite pending redevelopment of the downtown block into a mixed-use project that will both complement and enhance the existing retail and commercial uses on State Street.


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2003
Hemet Valley Mall

Hemet Valley Mall

HVM is another relatively tiny mall that could potentially be greatly impacted by Gottschalks' bankruptcy. A closure by Gottschalks here would leave the 29-year-old mall with two anchors (JCPenney and Sears). However, with the Hemet-San Jacinto area primed for future growth (and still relatively underserved retail-wise), it's doubtful an empty anchor would remain unused over the long haul. The center's biggest threat is likely to be any future large-scale retail development that may occur nearby in the coming years.


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2006
Inland Center

Inland Center - San Bernardino

With the fall of Mervyn's, which had been slated to fill the shuttered Broadway/Macy's, and the recent bankruptcy announcement by Gottschalks, this mall is probably the largest local mall potentially on shaky ground. The 43-year-old center could very well end the year with two of four anchor pads empty (leaving Macy's and Sears). However, with the all-but-final demise of nearby Carousel Mall nearly complete, coupled with potentially having two available department store pads, Inland Center could also have a slight advantage redevelopment-wise when the economy picks back up.


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2006
Promenade Shops

The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos - Corona

Another small, non-traditional mall, The Promenade Shops in Corona could be the newest center that's struggling the most. Depending upon how the national retail landscape shakes out, the center's lack of large department stores could either hurt or help. In the short term, the 3-year-old center could very well see some store closings. However, its location within a high-growth and higher-end demographic corridor likely assures a future of some sort (though it could use help increasing its visibility). It also has that unique lake/bridge feature to boot. Even so, its biggest threat is the nearby Galleria at Tyler in Riverside, which includes a Nordstrom, Macy's and over 100 more stores than does Dos Lagos.


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2006
Moreno Valley Mall

Moreno Valley Mall at Towngate

Already impacted by last year's closure of its Gottschalks store (which remains empty), the Moreno Valley Mall could see significant impacts from any potential reorganization of General Growth Properties. The 17-year-old center was slated to receive a Steve & Barry's, until that company joined the ranks of shuttered retailers last fall. However, with three other anchors -- Macy's, JCPenney and Sears -- the mall, which has struggled in the past, remains relatively healthy. Likewise, future long-term growth to the east and south favor its survival.


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2005
Riverside Plaza

Riverside Plaza

Another one-anchor mall that could be greatly impacted by any potential closure of Gottschalks is the venerable Riverside Plaza. As the region's oldest, large-scale shopping center, the 52-year-old, Victor Gruen Associates-designed Plaza has been performing well since its third incarnation opened in 2005 (which is less mall and more dining and entertainment). On one hand, a closure of Gottschalks would offer a unique opportunity for just the right anchor to step in and assume the 204,000 sq. ft., 4-level building (maybe an IKEA?). However, it could lead to the demolishing of the region's oldest, "modern" department store (and first, large-scale Harris' to be built beyond the flagship store in downtown San Bernardino). Yet, among the smaller malls of the region, Riverside Plaza is most likely to weather the turbulence.


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2001
Ontario Mills

Ontario Mills

Though more outlet center than traditional mall, the gigantic Ontario Mills recently had its own brush with fate as the beleaguered Mills Corp was acquired by Simon Property Group in early 2007. It's difficult to say exactly how Ontario Mills will be affected by the retail downturn as its size -- and lower-grade store makeup -- is probably as much an asset as it is a liability. In some sense, the lack of traditional department store anchors might be beneficial. Likewise, the area surrounding the 13-year-old center has become a strong magnet for peripheral commercial uses, attracting everything from major big-box retailers and traditional strip centers to mid-range hotels. But this has led to unfriendly traffic levels (and very unfriendly pedestrian atmosphere) and possibly over-saturation. However, its location at the highly visible junction of the I-10 and I-15 likely assures its long-term future -- in one form or another.


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2008
The Shoppes

The Shoppes at Chino Hills

About the size of Corona's Promenade Shops but with the look of Victoria Gardens, The Shoppes at Chino Hills will likely weather the current retail turbulence. Its location adjacent to the city's new (and future) civic center coupled with the area's high-end demographics likely assures a future for the small, 1-year-old center. However, its lack of traditional department stores and insufficient parking could be a significant hindrance. As such, the center's biggest threat is the nearby Montclair Plaza, which offers both a Nordstrom and Macy's (and many more stores).


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2008
Montclair Plaza

Montclair Plaza

As one of the area's largest and oldest indoor malls, the Montclair Plaza recently underwent a moderate interior renovation. With anchors Nordstrom, Macy's, JCPenney and Sears, it has traditionally been one of the strongest malls in the region. Yet, the 41-year-old center does have an empty anchor (the former Broadway/Macy's) and could be impacted by any potential reorganization of its owner (General Growth Properties). It also faces stiff competition from newer, higher-end developments nearby (Shoppes at Chino Hills and Victoria Gardens). However, the mall is more than likely to weather anything excepting a major transformation of the retail landscape.


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2006
Galleria at Tyler

Galleria at Tyler - Riverside

With anchors Nordstrom, Macy's and JCPenney, the Galleria at Tyler is both one of the largest and strongest traditional malls in the region. Solidified by recent expansions that included AMC Theaters, Yard House, The Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang's, the 39-year-old center is likely to weather anything but a major retail shake up. Yet, it too is owned by General Growth Properties and also has an existing empty anchor (the former Broadway/Macy's). However, its freeway-adjacent location between higher-end demographics in both Riverside and Corona more than likely assures the center's long-term viability.


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2006
The Promenade

The Promenade in Temecula

Probably the most insulated mall in the region, Temecula's Promenade stands on relatively solid ground. With four anchors -- Macy's-north, Macy's-south, JCPenney and Sears -- and few large-scale competitors nearby, the 10-year-old center dominates the southwestern Riverside County retail market. As with Montclair Plaza and Galleria at Tyler, the Promenade will withstand anything but a major retail shake up. And, along with Victoria Gardens, it will likely be in the running for the region's next Nordstrom.


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2006
Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens - Rancho Cucamonga

Probably the strongest and certainly the most unique mall in the region, Victoria Gardens is likely to weather most anything excepting a major transformation of the retail landscape. Its solid reputation, above-average store mix and pleasant outdoor atmosphere puts this center on relatively solid ground. It also contains the city's cultural center (with library and playhouse). The only foreseeable scenario potentially affecting the 5-year-old center would be the closing or consolidation of one or both Macy's anchors (one | two). Such closures could potentially leave the 3-anchor mall with a single anchor (JCPenney). However, its highly likely a retailer the likes of Nordstrom would quickly snap up any empty anchor store.



Related

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, The Press-Enterprise


Razed, Rebuilt, Revived

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Update: Original opening date corrected from 1955 to 1956-57; renovation updated from mid-1980s to 1984

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Riverside Plaza - late 1950s
Riverside Plaza, LLC

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2005
Riverside Plaza

Can a reborn shopping center inject new life into an older suburban neighborhood? Indeed it can as witnessed with the recently rebuilt Riverside Plaza.

Opened in three stages in 1956-57 as an outdoor shopping plaza and enclosed during a 1984 renovation, Riverside's first mall-like center has now come full-circle with its rebirth as an outdoor plaza once again.

As part of the rebuild, an assortment of new shops and eateries have planted roots with still more to come in a second phase currently under construction ("The Orchard Shops"). The only portion left from previous incarnations is the 1957 Harris-Gottschalks department store, itself receiving a complete makeover.

Also new to the mix is the addition of a Borders Books & Music and a 16-screen Regal Cinemas, which combined with the main street-like atmosphere and new eateries -- including California Pizza Kitchen, Ooka Japanese Restaurant, Citrus City Grille -- makes the new Plaza much more of a dining and entertainment destination than before. Oh, and we can't forget about the relocated Trader Joe's, which in reality is only about 25 yards from where it previously stood.

Likewise, adding extra life is the regularly-held events involving local schools and community organizations as well as "holiday flavoring" with a bit of fireworks during Fourth of July and a dash of snow during Christmastime.

More importantly, however, is that with the revival has come a renewed sense of place and reinvigoration within the surrounding Magnolia Center neighborhood, as highlighted in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times: Plaza revival breathes new life into Magnolia Center.

Slideshow: Rebirthing Riverside Plaza

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Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Plaza, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times

Rebirthing Riverside Plaza

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Update: Original opening date corrected from 1955 to 1956-57; renovation updated from mid-1980s to 1984

After nearly 10 years of talks and 5 years of false starts, one of the area's oldest shopping centers is finally nearing completion in its transformation from an enclosed mall back to an open-air shopping plaza.

Originally opened as an outdoor mall in three stages during 1956-57, the Riverside Plaza was the city's first large-scale shopping center. After 30 years of shopping under the sun (and occasional rainstorm), the Plaza adapted to long-evolving changes in shopping trends by adding a permanent roof in 1984.

Within the next decade, however, the Plaza began to slowly whittle away in the face of stiffer -- and much larger -- competition. The city's primary shopping center, the Galleria at Tyler -- which opened in 1970 as the Tyler Mall -- was greatly expanded via a second level in 1991. At about the same time, the Moreno Valley Mall at Towngate (1992) was built on land on the city's eastern edge that was once home to Riverside International Raceway. At over 1 million square feet each, both malls dwarfed the smallish, single-level Plaza.

But probably the nail in the coffin was the opening of the mega-sized Ontario Mills in 1996. The 2 million-square-foot-plus outlet mall created an instant retail hub that is still sending reverberations through the region's retail market today. Within 3 years, the Riverside Plaza was but a near-empty shell of its former self.

Thus began the current transformation. Upon completion, the newly rebuilt and once again outdoor Plaza will sport some long sought after establishments, including Borders, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle and Citrus City Grille (rumor has it that a Cheesecake Factory is also in the works).

Slideshow: Rebirthing Riverside Plaza

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Sources: Riverside Public Library, Riverside Plaza, The Press-Enterprise

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