Monday, May 26, 2008

Yikes! My Visit to the Dreaded Americana

I visited the dreaded Americana in Glendale for the first time last Saturday. The husband and two friends from West Hollywood were along for the ride. Our friends frequent The Grove, and were interested to see how this new Caruso project stacked up.

First, is it possible that it truly has boosted Glendale? Local restaurants were packed. Far Niente was booked until 9:00 pm and Tam O’Shanter was packed at 5:30.

And Americana was packed, too, of course. Our friends thought the crowd was different from the usual Grove crowd. Not surprising. I thought it looked like a Disneyland crowd with fewer children. Of course, the Cheesecake Factory had a long wait, but traffic in most of the stores was kinda light. I didn’t get to do much poking around in the stores – except for Barnes & Noble -- as I was with 3 guys and my husband’s shopping mall anxiety kicked in pretty quickly.

My take: it seemed much more like Universal City Walk than a mall. I think that once the dust settles, it will be a destination for young people who want to hang out rather than a major retail hub. And as far as the retail outlets go, I think the few national chains like Barnes & Noble and Chico’s will survive, but the high-end local stores like Barney’s Co-Op and Michael Stars may not be the same in a year or so. I think most shopping dollars will still be spent across the street at the Galleria, with its plethora of major retail chains like Macy’s, Target, Gap, etc. The Galleria was still mobbed at 9:00 pm, btw. That’s just my opinion, though.

And the condos, priced from $600,000 to over $1 million. Will they ever sell them all? I just can’t see it at those prices. Again, they are going to have to attract affluent young people who want to live over Disneyland.

I was curious about the decisions to build this, so I asked Patrick Duffy, of MetroIntelligence, a commercial real estate consulting firm, for his opinion. He says “…I'm a big fan of The Grove, and saw how its development helped raise property values throughout the surrounding area …I'm also a big fan of Glendale due to its location, somewhat small-town ambience and mix of uses, but I think Americana will certainly pull retail visitors from throughout the SFV and SGV areas. What remains to be seen, however, is how successful the residential components are, although people have been willing to pay a nice premium (i.e, 20-30%) for living in mixed-use communities such as this. But do people want to live in Disneyland every day? I personally like my quiet, suburban neighborhood…that's still 20 minutes from most things I want to do, and prefer to avoid the noise/congestion/constant activity of downtown Hollywood, downtown L.A. and perhaps large mixed-use communities such as this…”

Thanks Patrick. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

1 comment:

  1. It will be interested to see how American does once the proverbial dust settles. With the exception of the Galleria, most retail endeavors in Glendale have failed or been less successful than anticipated. Sure American looks great in a Disneyland kind of way, but can any normal human in the Glendale-Burbank-Pasadena area really afford the prices in some of those highly-upscale stores? And I would hate to be anywhere near Glendale at Christmas time. Just thinking about the traffic makes me want to crawl under the bed and hide!