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

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2011
Forever 21 - Galleria at Tyler, Riverside
Photo Gallery: The Broadway / Macy's / Forever 21


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.

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.

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October 1970
The Broadway
(Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak)

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2006
Macy's

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2011
Mall entrance

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2011
First level

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2011
Second level

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2011
North entrance

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.

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.

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).

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?

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?

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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* Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak

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



4 Comments

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.

@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).

@Kelly -- We lost your comments on F21. Please re-post. Thanks!

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

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