Los Angeles Mall

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Los Angeles Mall

Postby nichols » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:06 pm

Shopping for a Solution

LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN NEWS
October 10, 2005


Much Maligned L.A. Mall Is Targeted for Extreme Makeover



by Kathryn Maese



It's been called every name in the book. Dirty. Ugly. Dark. Outdated. Most recently, Councilwoman Janice Hahn added a few choice words of her own to describe the City-run Los Angeles Mall: "fragmented, dilapidated and uninviting."


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The rundown Los Angeles Mall across from City Hall has stymied city leaders who have sought to redevelop it. Councilwoman Janice Hahn is leading the latest effort to make the retail strip relevant. Photo by Gary Leonard.



Call it what you will, the subterranean retail strip just east of City Hall has been a running joke for more years than civic leaders care to recall. Most who speak about the early-1970s throwback do so with derision.

It's a reputation Hahn said she wants to change.

"There is a better idea for this mall. Right now it is languishing," said Hahn, who once co-managed the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Mall, and whose 15th District includes portions of South Los Angeles and the harbor area. "I'm doing this for all the city employees who every day give a collective groan when it's time for lunch. We also have a new urban lifestyle developing in Downtown and people living here 24-7."

Last month, Hahn drafted a motion asking the General Services Department and the Chief Administrative Office to report back to the Council's Information Technology & General Services Committee, which she chairs, on how to give the facility some sex appeal.

Bounded by Temple, Main, Los Angeles and Aliso streets, the shopping center is marred by uneven walkways, drab architecture, dim lighting and lack of visibility from the street and plaza level. Last year, the Downtown Breakfast Club lampooned the L.A. Mall for being one of the worst projects in Downtown over the last 25 years. During a video spoof, public television host Huell Howser sarcastically raved about the design and, in his Tennessee twang, said, "I love to come down here on sunny days."


Hahn also wants to extend the hours, keeping the mall open on evenings and weekends. "The outdated concept of nine to five is crazy," she said. "That's why in the past we haven't been able to get tenants like CPK and Cheesecake Factory. Now we have a whole new constituency."

Many Failed Attempts

The undertaking may sound simple, but Hahn is only the latest Civic Center denizen to tackle the thorny piece of real estate. In the late 1980s and early '90s, the city hired a consultant to turn the property around and attract big name tenants. The plan, like the mall itself, ended up collecting dust. Hahn's motion said, "Those plans appear to have been set aside for unknown reasons."

More than a decade later, the Downtown Los Angeles landscape is much changed from the time when Mayor Tom Bradley was in office and Disney Hall was a mere twinkle in architect Frank Gehry's eye. Hahn said she plans to use Downtown's momentum to improve the mall once and for all, perhaps tying it into the nearby $1.8 billion Grand Avenue plan, which is expected to deliver a promenade of shops, restaurants and entertainment.


"I think we have this whole experience happening in Downtown and a lot of things coming online," she said. "We can bask in some of that glory."

Basking will have to wait, however. Currently the L.A. Mall is a mishmash of merchants: There are 11 tenants offering haircuts, Lotto tickets, gifts, shoe repair and other services, along with 13 eateries and four retail stores. Of the 47,867 square feet of mall space, city offices account for a huge chunk - 22,300 square feet.

More than two years ago, Controller Laura Chick audited the city's real estate holdings, including the Los Angeles Mall. The report found that the venue lacks a strategic plan focusing on maximizing revenues, improving customer satisfaction, and creating convenient public access to city offices.

"The Los Angeles Mall is a perfect example of unfulfilled and unrealized potential. Here we have this prime commercial space, right in the core of our Civic Center, and it is only a shadow of what it could be," Chick said in the audit.

Revenues have gone up and down over the years for a variety of reasons, said Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., the city's director of asset management, who oversees the facility. For example, revenues dropped after 9-11 because new security procedures were implemented and the streets around City Hall were blocked off. In the last fiscal year, the mall generated $462,846.

"The mall hours are limited to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., which significantly impacts revenue generation by merchants," said Jones-Sawyer. "There is no customer traffic after 5 p.m. [and] subsequently retail shops' revenue generation is negatively impacted."

Recent efforts to lease the vacant slots have drawn little interest from retailers, often resulting in vendor proposals that are similar to existing mall tenants. No leases were signed in 2004; three have been inked this year.

Currently, mall rents are well below the average of $4.25 a square foot that newer retail space such as the Grove shopping mall commands, or even the $3.25 a square foot landlords fetch at older malls, said Ingrid White, senior managing director for Charles Dunn Company's retail services group.

Bits of Momentum

When and if Hahn's plan moves forward, it could build on small bits of momentum. In July, the city approved a five-year lease for a 3,611-square-foot California Pita and Grill restaurant. It will replace the Bob's Big Boy that occupied the slot for almost 30 years. This could bring the city monthly revenues of $4,500, or $1.25 a square foot.

Likewise, exercise studio Curves is negotiating a lease for an 1,800-square-foot mall location; it would pay $2,250 a month, or $1.22 a square foot. The space was previously occupied by a city office and has been vacant for nearly a year. But for Curves franchise owner Mickey Verma, the main attraction is foot traffic, which the city estimates at about 20,000 people daily.

"We thought that it seemed like a good space and it's surrounded by a lot of density and population from City Hall, the police department and Caltrans," she said. "When I first walked into the space I thought it had potential. My first impression is that it was not really clean but the person I talked to assured me it would change."

White said older properties like the Los Angeles Mall have high operating expenses that reduce revenue. She noted that landlords typically take the cost of property taxes, insurance and maintenance for items such as air conditioning, and divide it into each tenant's rent according to their square footage.

"It sounds like they are doing the best they can with what they have but there needs to be an investment in the center," White said.

Hahn, who recently returned from a shopping center convention in Las Vegas, said she spoke with several potential tenants and developers. She also brought Jones-Sawyer to the event to glean ideas about how to improve the facility.

"The mall facade needs at least a facelift and at best it needs to be completely reconstructed," said Jones-Sawyer, who noted that the current space is really just a food and service court for government employees and clients.

Though a new strategic plan is expected to take several months, Hahn said she has three years and nine months - the time until her term expires - to make sure the city revamps the mall.

"I worked in the shopping center industry and I know that it's not the best thing government does," Hahn said. "We need to start better management of the mall."

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Postby nichols » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:33 pm

Good background on the Los Angeles Mall (1975) from publicartinla.com

http://www.publicartinla.com/CivicCente ... story.html

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Postby Tony » Wed Oct 12, 2005 5:37 pm

And what will happen to the Triforium?

That piece of artwork was never completed, because the cost of computers was so high. So the light show was never as expected.

Of course, today, a cell phone probably has enough computing power to run it!

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Oct 12, 2005 5:50 pm

arrrrggggg.....
the l.a. mall is one of the most pleasing walks in l.a.
my favorite moment was stumbling across a sculpture of columbus one day.

MAYBE if they turn the freaking fountains back on to the correct original volume - it would help.

when will city officials ever learn???
Last edited by Futura Girl on Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby sloanfiske » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:29 pm

and it was a great place to skate when i was a kid.

funny how the childrens museum wasn't mentioned.

much cooler than the underground mall at the "arco" towers

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The L.A. Mall

Postby khummer » Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:01 am

My how times change, I remember how lively the Crystal City (I guess that is what is called) underground mall in Alexandria, VA was 30 years ago as a kid. I went back to visit before catching a plane at National Airport, it somehow had the same description that Janice Hahn gave it. All the major tenants had moved out, and gosh only knows what the hotel Sheraton above it still looks as it looms over the mall. Just a bunch of suit'd men walking from one place to another without even a side glance to the visual drama around them. Colored walls, and knick-knacks with no one to appreciate the experience.

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Triforium

Postby greenbot » Mon Oct 17, 2005 3:39 pm


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Postby Tony » Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:41 pm

I checked my notes:

The Los Angeles Mall, 1973-74, designed by Stanton & Stockwell, Cornell Bridgers Troller & Hazlett.

The Triforium, 1975, Joseph Young

And the Pedestrian Overpass, 1974, Howard Troller & Tom Van Sant

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Postby Velas » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:59 am

ww.panoramaonview.org

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Postby harding » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:26 pm

The Children's Museum shut down sometime in 2001 or 2002. They are apparently looking for a new home, but do not expect to return to the mall. The city had actually planted oleander (read poison) trees right in front of the museum and I used to see the blossoms on the ground in front of the museum all the time, so I was relieved when they moved. Of course, they changed the oleander to salvia after they pulled out... For a while, the former Children's Museum housed the city attorneys investigating the Rampart scandal.

I really hope they don't mess up this mall. I walk over it or in it almost every day, since I work across the street. It works well as a food court; there is a beautiful sunken palm-planted area where people eat outside away from traffic noise.

Hahn's desire to see this open 24 hours is misplaced. Government workers frequent this place and they tend to run away around 5. They are unlikely to go to any fancy restaurants on their lunch break. They go to the Sav-on, the B Dalton and the post office. Not much else is needed in the mall and I can't see the Spring/Main dwellers coming way over to the Civic Center. There is no parking, and it was really set up for workers to frequent.

I had high hopes for the Triforium Temple, but it is still silent.

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Postby nichols » Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:02 pm

October 24, 2005

latimes.com : California


Children's Museum Drafts Big Plans for Its Little Patrons


Work begins on a new $43-million facility in Lake View Terrace. Hands-on displays and an imaginary ecosystem will blend learning, play.

By Wendy Thermos, Times Staff Writer


Adults are building a new $43-million enterprise in Los Angeles, but it will be left up to the imagination of children to run the place.

After five years of planning, fundraising and a difficult search for a site, construction began last week in Lake View Terrace on the new Children's Museum of Los Angeles, a venue that officials hope will draw more than 350,000 visitors a year and become a key cultural asset for the community and the San Fernando Valley.

"It's about empowering and educating children," said Mark Dierking, the museum's executive director. "The concept is that the museum really doesn't function without kids."

Set in the foothill terrain of Lake View Terrace, the museum will revolve around an imaginary ecosystem, intended to show children that everything around them is interdependent — land, vegetation and climate. It's up to humans like them to keep the world running smoothly.

The 60,000-square-foot museum, slated to open in mid-2007, will be packed with hands-on displays in which youngsters can learn while they play. They will feed make-believe creatures phosphorus and nitrogen, learn about air currents by donning wings and imitating birds or planes, create puppets and scripts for performances, and learn to cook healthful meals, among other activities.

A key feature will be a transport system called the Big Fun Cool Thing, which will operate much like a giant dry cleaner's rack. The contraption will ferry children's artwork, inventions and small construction projects throughout the museum for all to see. The machine will also function as a giant energy exchange system, funneling water, air and sun-generated power to many exhibits.

The ecosystem will have three stand-alone whimsical creatures with which children can interact. Tree will represent the plant kingdom; Dogbear and Puppycub will stand for the animal kingdom. The creatures won't thrive without human attention. Children will use colored balls to find the right combination of nutrients to feed the tree so that its lighted leaves turn green or its fruit ripens.

"It puts kids in charge and creatively in control," Dierking said.

In an area called the kitchen, children will learn about cooking customs and healthy eating habits. They will produce food themselves, including simulated fare for Puppycub.

One exhibit will allow children to experiment with water flow by sliding a series of gates to control a cascading stream. In another workshop, youngsters will learn to build small fort-like structures they can play in.

"We really are looking for the next generation of children's museums," City Council President Alex Padilla said last week. "My expectation is that it will be the premier children's museum in the country."

Padilla, who grew up near what is now the Hansen Dam Recreation Area, where the museum will be, and now represents the area, said the facility will help revitalize a part of Los Angeles where residents have long complained of blighted conditions and a lack of cultural opportunities.

"When I was a kid, we had to make long bus or car trips downtown to see the museums," he said. "And then if we wanted to go back the next weekend, we couldn't easily get there. That really hasn't changed…. Cultural offerings need to be dispersed throughout the city, not just concentrated downtown."

It was only after decades of effort on the part of Valley residents and lawmakers that the silt-choked Hansen Lake and surrounding 1,400 acres of wilderness were transformed into a handsome park featuring fishing, trails and picnic facilities. The city is leasing an acre of its parkland to the museum for $1 a year.

The new museum, just east of Osborne Street and Foothill Boulevard, will replace the Civic Center Children's Museum, which closed five years ago because it had no room for expansion, parking was a problem and its lease was expiring.

The board of the nonprofit museum initially considered new quarters close to the old 17,000-square-foot location on Main Street but dropped the idea because it was too expensive. Griffith Park came under serious consideration, only to be shot down by neighborhood groups, which didn't want more congestion in an already busy area.

After Padilla was elected in 1999, he pushed to bring the museum to Hansen Dam Park. The site offered ample parking, and the tranquil setting was viewed as a major draw. Also, it would boost the east San Fernando Valley's civic identity, supporters hoped. The City Council approved turning over $9.5 million in city park bond funds as seed money for the museum.

To date, backers have raised $27 million from public and private sources for the project.

"We still need $16 million," Dierking said. "The building is fully funded. We're now raising money for exhibits and operations." After Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony, a fundraiser in Beverly Hills brought $350,000 in pledges.

The Los Angeles Children's Museum will join about 250 youth museums around the nation, with 70 others in the planning or construction stage. Museum advocates say it is vital for children to have a discovery and exploration space to call their own.

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Postby nichols » Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:03 pm

(via Curbed)

"From today's LA Times.. on the back page of the business section there is a (advertisement from the city) 'request for proposal for development of los angeles mall'.. which is that odd, kind of underground mall/plaza by city hall and the court houses...the one with the "triforium" sculpture.

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2007/06/curbedwire_3.php


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