The aging mall is looking to rebrand itself with open walls and potentially a Whole Foods
Since the 1970s, shoppers have flocked to that American institution, the indoor mall, a fortress of commerce, fully enclosed and shut off from the outside world. Under its roof, there’s little hint of the natural world, no breeze to push away the strong scents of Sbarro and Abercrombie & Fitch cologne. Tiled pathways and glass guardrails guide people from one Wetzel’s Pretzels to the next. For decades, this oppressive ecosystem of the Twentieth Century mall has shaped consumerism, housed loitering teens, and brought last minute holiday shoppers to the brink of insanity.
To many, the idea of an indoor mall seems outdated, and developers like Rick Caruso have swept in with modernizations of the pre-mall, main street shopping experience. His Grove and Americana developments brought store entrances outside and introduced a whole new generation to trolleys. The indoor mall is dying, and shopping centers are scrambling to keep up with the new needs of Twenty-First Century consumers.
Several Los Angeles malls have sought to stay relevant recently by remodeling, incorporating the open-air aesthetic into their aging designs. The Bloc project has ripped the roof off an aging Downtown LA mall, and will stock the space with new shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences (plus a subway portal to boot). The Beverly Center has announced plans for a $500-million makeover that will see massive skylights installed in its ceilings, finally bringing the natural light long enjoyed by the mall’s escalators to its patrons and employees alike.
Now the mall remodel bug is spreading west. According to Los Angeles Business Journal, the Westside Pavilion is also looking to change it’s image with an extensive renovation. The 31-year-old shopping institution is in the planning stages of a project that will knock down its fronts walls completely, opening its ground-level stores to Pico Boulevard pedestrians.
The Westside Pavilion has seen a dip in business over the years, even losing one of its flagship stores—Nordstrom’s will soon be leaving Westside Pavilion for Westfield Century City, another mall undergoing a massive remodel. With the opening of a new Expo Line station just blocks away, the Westside Pavilion is using the Nordstrom’s vacancy as an opportunity to adapt to a new generation of pedestrian shoppers.
Final plans for the new Westside Pavilion have not been made public, but the mall has been consulting with community leaders on potential redesign ideas. They include: incorporating more glass walls to open the space to natural light, converting the third floor into creative office space, and expanding the parking garage structure up to the second level. There have also been hints that a Whole Foods could take over the Nordstrom’s space.