Santa Monica Place is one of the latest enclosed malls to meet with the grim reaper: the place is scheduled to close up shop at the end of this month! Socal Labelscarrers: act fast if you want a chance to say goodbye!
Santa Monica Place is a three-level, 570,000 square foot shopping mall located in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, California, just a few blocks from the beach and the infamous Santa Monica Pier. The mall, which opened in 1980, sits at the southernmost end of Santa Monica’s bustling third street shopping district, which is a lively and vibrant downtown pedestrian mall (and one of the best pedestrian-friendly areas in all of Los Angeles, really). Somewhat surprisingly, the mall was designed by renown architect Frank Gehry with Victor Gruen Associates, giving it a more stunning architectural pedigree than most centers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the interior architecture at the 120-store mall is considerably blander than the names of those starchitects might suggest. The mall has two anchors: a large Macy’s and a former Robinsons-May which closed in 2006 and was partially replaced by a new Steve & Barry’s store in 2007. Santa Monica Place is most famous for cameos in movies and television; most notably appearing in Beverly Hills: 90210, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and also as the exterior of the “Ridgemont Mall” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (the interiors were at the now-deceased Sherman Oaks Galleria).
The mall, which was less than 50% occupied by 2007, apparently never turned a profit. The Macerich Companies purchased the ailing center in 1999 and first floated a redevelopment plan in 2004 that would’ve replaced it with a large complex of offices, condominiums, and retail. The plan was met with opposition and scrapped. In 2007, Macerich proposed a more modest redevelopment plan that would tear the roof off the current center and convert it into an outdoor mall to anchor the southern end of the Third Street Mall. This plan is now moving forward and the mall was in the process of clearing out most of the tenants when these photos were taken in November 2007.
Santa Monica Place’s prime location is probably a big part of the reason this place is going to come down. Given the lively streetscape and near-perfect weather, it seems silly to force people inside to shop, when a superblock component to the existing downtown streetscape would probably be more successful. Plus, California has many fully outdoor “malls,” and it seems the plan is to turn good ol’ Santa Monica Place into one of them.
There’s another retail oddity just behind Santa Monica Place. This 1945 vintage Sears store is not part of the mall itself, but I thought it epitomized classic Art Deco California cool, and how Sears utilized some ancient logos (or simply just kept them up?) Either way, a neat find.