The Zimmer Children’s Museum is moving to Santa Monica

By Richard Guzman | [email protected] | Press Telegram January 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm The Zimmer Children’s Museum is moving. Its new location promises to be twice as large as its current space with the potential to nearly triple the annual attendance. Currently located in the first and basement levels of the Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile area, the museum is scheduled to move to Santa Monica Place in late 2018. “This is an opportunity to increase our visibility and accessibility,” said Esther Netter, CEO of the museum. “Being at the nexus of the end of the Expo line at the ocean, at Santa Monica Place, in a vibrant downtown is incredible,” she added. The 10,000 square-foot museum, which features interactive exhibits as well as arts and educational programs aimed at children, currently attracts about 85,000 visitors per year. Netter said the new location in a 20,000 square-foot space at the top of the three-story outdoor mall in downtown Santa Monica is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually after it opens in late 2018. “Our hours are limited, parking is limited and visibility is extraordinarily limited,” Netter said of their current location. The plans for the new museum are still in the early stages. Museum officials will soon contract with designers and architects for the project with renderings expected shortly. Cost figures have not yet been released. But the new location also means new exhibits and programming at the upcoming museum.“We are taking what we know and do well and are designing and creating something completely new,” Netter said. The Wilshire location will close just before the grand opening of the Santa Monica Place location. Santa Monica Place is a busy outdoor mall anchored by high end department stores Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., as well as restaurants like True Food Kitchen and The Cheesecake Continue Reading

All the new restaurants headed for the Westfield Century City mall, including Din Tai Fung

One of next year’s most exciting places to eat in Los Angeles may actually be a mall. Westfield Century City plans to open more than 10 restaurants, bars and coffee shops as part of its $950-million makeover, along with the West Coast’s first Eataly Italian marketplace. Here’s an alphabetical look at what you’ll be waiting in line to eat at the Century City mall next year: Compartes Chocolatier: The Los Angeles chocolate brand has been making chocolate in L.A. since 1950. Known for owner Jonathan Grahm’s playful flavors and packaging, each of the company’s two existing stores (on Melrose Avenue and in Brentwood) has a colorful chocolate bar wall. No word yet on whether the Century City location will have one, but we’re expecting great, big, Instagram-worthy things. Compartes is scheduled to open in April.  Din Tai Fung: This is the Taiwanese restaurant known for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings), and the hordes of people willing to wait hours to eat them. The restaurant is scheduled to open in late 2017. Other SoCal locations of Din Tai Fung can be found in Arcadia, Glendale, Torrance, Costa Mesa and Santa Clara.  Eataly: The massive Italian marketplace, developed by Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich, will house restaurants, markets, fresh food counters, classes and events. The Los Angeles Eataly (there are versions in New York City, Chicago and Boston), will have an open-air, three-level layout that includes a rooftop bar along Santa Monica Boulevard. Eataly is scheduled to open in the summer.  Javier’s: The Mexican restaurant has locations in Newport Beach, Las Vegas and Los Cabos, Mexico. Javier’s is known for its seafood dishes, rare tequilas and margaritas. Expect bone marrow tacos with veal mole verde and tequila martinis with fresh prickly pear. Javier’s is scheduled to Continue Reading

How the mall, once a pop-culture touchstone, fell out of fashion

It’s the most spendthrift time of the year — a period when materialism is integral to tradition. To celebrate the holidays without shopping would seemingly render someone a philistine Grinch.But the mood surrounding fashion and shopping this holiday season isn’t as tried-and-true as television commercials may suggest. Determined to set their own traditions, Millennials are perusing for fashion online, at independent boutiques and on Instagram — but in malls? Not as much.The mall — suburbia’s onetime lifestyle nexus for giant pretzels, ear piercings and a girl’s first thong — is battling a decline in cultural relevance as the social meeting place for young Americans continues to transition from physical spaces to phone screens.Malls, with their atrium ceilings, uniform store roster and pleasant chemical aroma, are a comforting postcard of commercial Americana. The mall concept has been replicated with carbon-copy efficiency in bustling suburbs across the nation. But this homogeneous familiarity has also contributed to many malls’ waning pertinence — their contents have often become too detached from local community life and are easily accessed on the Internet.This summer, Credit Suisse issued a report estimating that one-quarter of today’s existing malls will close by 2022.Much has been written about “The Death of Retail.” Few accounts, though, are told from the perspective of creatively inclined Millennials, the likes of whom are helping to contribute to the mall’s cultural decline.WWD consulted a coterie of young, fashion-adjacent creatives who grew up shopping at malls across the U.S. Now as young urbanites in creative industries, it seemed plausible to ask this group to surmise and suggest where the mall had gone astray and what could fix it. Particularly considering, as one noted, “It takes years, a lot of time, for [fashion] trends to travel inward to the center of the Continue Reading

Jonathan Gold finds delight in the secretive Santa Monica restaurant Dialogue

One of the best things I’ve ever eaten was a pressed squab that was part of the Hunt menu at Chicago’s restaurant Next, a bloody, barely roasted bird whose breasts and legs were ceremoniously carved off by a chef at a tableside cart, and its carcass was put into a huge, hand-cranked press to be squeezed like an orange. Ten minutes later, the finished dish and its dense sauce, famously one of the most glamorous preparations of Escoffier, were brought out from the kitchen.I bring this up because Dialogue, a new tasting-menu restaurant in Santa Monica, is the current project of Dave Beran, who was then the chef at Next, and right in the middle of the intimate open kitchen is exactly the gleaming duck press you may have hoped you would see, possibly the only one in the city at the moment. There are no carts — Dialogue, which sits just 18 people, is about the size of a two-car garage. Beran presses his ducks behind the counter, capturing the juices that flow from the silvery spout and reducing them with aromatics until they thicken into a suave gravy, less inflected by booze and innards than the version you may have tasted at Tour d’Argent the first time you went to Paris with a credit card, but perfectly autumnal.Los Angeles, we have noted, has lately become one of the best food cities in the world, at the heart of a great agricultural region, with an astonishingly diverse population, and with an openness to new ideas that you might expect in an entertainment capital. But until lately, there were few non-Asian restaurants that aspired to the highest level of international cooking, the rarefied realm of the World’s Top 50 list, multiple Michelin stars, and reservation lists backed up for three months; of $800 dinner tabs; of 20-course tasting menus that read like symbolist poetry; of sommeliers cross-cutting between elegant Burgundies and stank pét-nats with the fluency of an old-school hip-hop DJ.But Beran is nothing if not Continue Reading

Shopping mall giant Westfield being sold to French real estate firm in $16-billion deal

Westfield Corp., which operates upscale shopping malls in Los Angeles and in dozens of other U.S. cities and in Britain, agreed to be acquired for nearly $16 billion by French commercial real estate giant Unibail-Rodamco, the companies said Tuesday.The deal underlined how even operators of marquee malls are not immune from the seismic shift occurring in retail, where consumers worldwide are increasingly moving more of their shopping to online sites such as and away from physical stores in malls and elsewhere.Westfield, based in Australia, owns 35 malls, including its Century City shopping center, which recently completed a $1-billion makeover.Westfield’s other area properties include Topanga & the Village in Canoga Park, Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, Westfield Culver City, Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia, and malls in Santa Clarita and in the San Diego area.Unibail-Rodamco operates 69 shopping centers in major European cities including Paris, Madrid, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Munich, Germany, and it’s developing malls in Brussels and Hamburg, Germany.The new company will be based in Paris and Amsterdam, with regional headquarters in Los Angeles and London.“The industry is under severe pressure from internet selling and particularly Amazon,” said John Colley, a professor at Britain’s Warwick Business School, in an email. “Clearly there are significant savings as the new enterprise will need only one head office, board, systems and functional management.”Hundreds of bricks-and-mortar stores — especially department stores, apparel-heavy outlets and sporting goods stores — already have closed in the United States in the last year as foot traffic has fallen. That has put pressure on mall operators to fill the vacancies, especially for outlets that serve as anchor stores.That pressure had resulted in Westfield’s shares falling about 9% this year before the merger announcement, and it has sparked Continue Reading

Vacant Santa Monica Sears getting a second life with a $50-million makeover

The vacant Sears department store in downtown Santa Monica is poised for an extreme makeover that will turn the former down-to-earth purveyor of general merchandise into a swanky place to work, eat or grab a beer.Soon the Art Deco landmark will be home to sun-drenched offices for rent with a rooftop garden and a market hall where vendors sell food, drinks and other wares such as books or clothing. It will be renamed the Mark 302.The $50-million renovation is yet another example of how developers are repurposing the growing number of empty big-box stores left behind by fading traditional retailers — especially in desirable locations.And it would be hard to find a belly-up store in a better locale.When this one opened on Colorado Avenue in 1947, it was on the edge of the business district of a sleepy blue-collar beach town. The Santa Monica Freeway did not exist.Today, the city is one of the wealthiest in the state, and the building stands at the terminus of the Expo light rail line, across the street from Santa Monica Place shopping center and a short walk from Santa Monica Pier.“It’s a premier, crown-jewel asset — definitely one to be excited about,” developer Kacy Keys said.The Sears was one of many department stores that opened in the years immediately after World War II to capitalize on the booming growth of Southern California and the pent-up consumer demand unleashed once the war ended. It was the 10th Sears store in Los Angeles County.Keys visited the Santa Monica store as a child in the 1970s and remembers running around with her brother and munching free popcorn, a gustatory perk fondly recalled by others who grew up in the neighborhood.Today, Keys oversees development in the West for Seritage Growth Properties, a New York real estate investment trust that owns 253 Sears and Kmart stores that could potentially be redeveloped.Seritage gained control of the stores in 2015 as part of a $2.7-billion deal that involved leasing most Continue Reading

Coming to a mall near you in 2018: Craft brewers, children’s theaters, gyms and other unorthodox uses

Malls are getting makeovers — so much so they might not be called malls anymore, or you might do a double take next time you stroll through one. U.S. retail landlords including To be sure, many of these property owners don't exactly have a choice. As department stores including "We've weathered lots of storms one way or another," Simon CEO David Simon said on a recent conference call with analysts and investors, discussing retail's rough ride in 2017. "We'd certainly love a better natural retail environment," Simon added. But in the meantime, the company is working on "diversifying away from the have-nots to the haves." Take a look at Simon's King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia, which the company likes to call its "Hudson Yards" (a major development being done in New York) for suburban America. This is also notably one of the top-performing malls in the country, according to Green Street Advisors. There, the REIT is planning to fill a vacated Penney store with mixed uses such as hotels, apartments and office spaces, which could ultimately hike the asset's value by more than $1 billion, according to Simon. The specific incoming occupants have yet to be formally announced. Nowadays, Simon said, it spends about $1 billion annually to renovate its malls. In signing new leases, the REIT has reduced its exposure to apparel tenants — the biggest headache on many company's directories — by about 20 percent and has added 20 percent more food and entertainment businesses. "I think, as things have changed, we now consider Continue Reading

Mall operator Macerich may change name of Atlas Park mall

The embattled Atlas Park mall in Glendale may get a new name next year. The high-profile firm that runs the Cooper Ave. complex plans to re-dub the mix of eateries and shops a year after the struggling center emerged from foreclosure. The announcement by mall giant Macerich comes just months after Atlas Park lost a Borders bookstore that had been one of the mall’s few draws. Other shop owners have griped about poor foot traffic there. “We’re going to sort of re-invent and push it to a different vision,” Macerich executive Timothy Steffan told the Daily News on Tuesday. Macerich will ask community leaders for feedback before revealing the new name by the end of 2012, Steffan said. “We want to make sure we understand what their feelings are.” Atlas Park is named after the Atlas Terminal industrial park that occupied the site for a century before the mall opened in 2006. Steffan said he does not think the Atlas Park moniker carries a stigma due to the foreclosure and store closings, but he acknowledged it “has a history to it” that Macerich wants to change. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) expressed a fondness for the Atlas Park name, but she said she wouldn’t object if Macerich picks a new one. “They are much more experienced with marketing,” she said. “They’re experts.” News of the name change caps the mall’s eventful first year in the Macerich portfolio. The Santa Monica-based company snatched Atlas Park for about $54 million at a foreclosure auction in January. The Daily News reported in July that Macerich may pursue zoning changes that would let a single retailer occupy more than 10,000 square feet of above-grade space. Steffan said the company is considering re-directing traffic in the mall and bringing storefronts closer to the curb. Kathy Masi of the Glendale Civic Association said that Macerich’s Continue Reading

Atlas Park mall still struggling after Macerich takeover

More than a year after mall giant Macerich bought the Shops at Atlas Park, business owners there say the struggling mall has yet to turn a corner. But they are are holding onto hope the high-profile firm can turn it into bustling center, even after the announcement of the most recent closure, women’s clothing store Coldwater Creek. A spokeswoman confirmed that store will leave the Glendale shopping center on March 15. A few storefronts have opened in the past year, but none have filled the hole left by anchor store Borders, tenants said. Boris Sorin, an attorney who has represented store owners throughout previous rent negotiations, said landlord-tenant relations are much better under Macerich. “Overall they’re happy there is structure, there is a plan in place,” he said, adding that it would difficult for the company to totally transform the Cooper Ave. complex in 14 months. Sunil Jawaher and his wife Ann Marie opened the Pink Lady, a moderately priced women’s clothing and accessory store in Atlas last fall. They said they were able to open in part because Macerich’s rent was more affordable than under the previous owner. Still, they worry about a lack of foot traffic and hope business at the outdoor shopping center picks up in the warmer weather. “A lot of people don’t know it’s there,” Jawaher said, adding Macerich, which also owns the profitable Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, could do more by way of advertising. The Santa Monica-based Macerich snatched Atlas Park for about $54 million at a foreclosure auction in January 2011. Late last the year the company said the mall, which has struggled in the down economy, could be getting a new moniker this year. And in July 2011, executives said the company may pursue zoning changes that would let a single retailer occupy more than 10,000 square feet of above-grade space. But a spokeswoman for the city Planning Department said the Continue Reading

Rusty Lyon, the mall developer who changed the way Arizona shopped, dead at 86

The next time you are shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Square, having dinner at the Arizona Biltmore or dropping your kids off at Chandler Fashion Center, thank Rusty Lyon.He’s the visionary developer who saw metro Phoenix’s growth coming and launched most of the area’s most popular malls. Lyon, 86, recently died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.Russell “Rusty” Lyon Jr.  developed more than a dozen shopping centers through Phoenix-based Westcor, which he launched in 1964. But he never sought the limelight for his work and often credited others.People who worked with Lyon remember him as a kind and friendly man who was often the smartest person in the room. He greeted employees by name and asked about their families and lives. And many also recall that he loved to do crossword puzzles and that he always did them in ink."The kind of person that Rusty was is the kind of person we want our students to be," Mark Stapp, director of the Master of Real Estate Development at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School, told me. "I had the pleasure of working with and knowing him. Rusty was ethics personified. He was community-minded and absolutely approachable."Lyon started his Arizona real estate career after serving as a jet pilot in the Air Force during the Korean War. He joined his father's brokerage, Russ Lyon Realty, which was licensed in Arizona in 1947.Rusty Lyon’s first big real estate deal was the sale of the Pink Pony restaurant in Scottsdale.He started Westcor in 1964. Its first shopping center, Los Arcos Mall in Scottsdale, was built in 1969. That mall has been transformed into Arizona State University’s innovation center, Skysong. Most of the Valley's main shopping centers from Metrocenter in west Phoenix to Paradise Valley Mall in north Phoenix were developed by Westcor."He did it all from the vision to the planning and the Continue Reading