Retail Developments May Change — But They Don’t Halt — in LA

by Camren Skelton

There is much talk that new, ground-up retail development is all but finished throughout most of the country. Two monster projects in the Los Angeles area prove this is far from the case.

Palisades Village

The coastal community of Pacific Palisades will usher in a new era of shopping, dining and entertainment when Caruso’s Palisades Village opens this Saturday, Sept. 22. The center has been dubbed “the new community gathering spot,” and those behind it intend for Palisades Village to be just that.

“Palisades Village represents the evolution of what we have always built at Caruso,” says Rick J. Caruso, the company’s CEO and founder. “We are in the business of creating beautiful places that are woven into the everyday fabric of the community — places that make people happy and add to the quality of life. We are so proud that this property will offer something for everyone, and will create a new daily destination for locals and their families.” 

palisades.jpegPalisades Village will house tenants such as Vintage Grocers, Botanica Bazaar, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Amazon Books, Carbon38 and Rachel Zoe. 

The 125,000-square-foot outdoor shopping center is built on a former brownfield site that will now host a walkable village, community room, three-level underground parking structure, eight luxury apartments and office space. Caruso and his team strove to keep the retail tenant mix local and/or novel, opting to maintain the quaint, coastal village feel Pacific Palisades is known for.

The Bay Theatre, operated by Cinépolis, only includes five screens. It is named after a local theater that shuttered in the ‘70s and features a marquee inspired by the namesake’s original design. Vintage Grocers, a community-minded specialty market, will serve as the project’s grocer, while artisanal companies and restaurants like Botanica Bazaar, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and General round out the community-minded feel. Palisades Village will also be home to ecommerce companies like Amazon Books, and the first brick-and-mortar outposts for Carbon38, the Little Market by Lauren Conrad, Jennifer Meyer jewelry and stylist Rachel Zoe, who will occupy a 500-square-foot space.

Los Angeles Premium Outlets

Macerich and Simon are forging ahead in a similar fashion, having recently announced the $400 million development of Los Angeles Premium Outlets on a former landfill in Carson. Phase I of the project will include 400,000 square feet, followed by an additional 166,000 square feet in Phase II. The outlet center is being built with 2,500 linear feet of frontage along the 405 Freeway, not far from the new City of Champions Stadium, the future home of the Rams and Chargers. It is scheduled to open in fall 2021.

The co-developers believe the project will benefit from the region’s high density of 2.5 million residents within 10 miles and its location just 11 miles from LAX, the nation’s second-busiest airport serving 81 million passengers annually.

“We are very pleased to partner in the development of this one-of-a-kind outlet project on great, well-positioned real estate to serve one of the nation’s most attractive markets,” said Ed Coppola, president of Macerich, and David Simon, CEO and Chairman of Simon, in a joint statement. “We look forward to creating the ultimate outlet destination of choice for both local residents and international visitors to Los Angeles.”

Though tenants have not been revealed, the partners have hinted the mix will include a variety of well-known, national tenants in an environment that feels more like a lifestyle center than an outlet mall.


Lewis Smith, senior vice president of Retail California, believes it can be tricky to successfully craft a new shopping center project or expand within the state, but that those who do can reap big rewards.

“It is harder to open businesses and/or expand into California than in any other state due to higher minimum wage; higher taxes; higher worker’s comp, disability, insurance, etc.; and just the general cost of doing business in California,” he says. “However, if you are able to be successful in California, there is certainly a captive audience and market to purchase your goods and/or services.”

Lewis-Smith.pngLewis Smith, Retail California

One challenge, he notes, can be getting the hottest retailers to commit.

“Retailers are becoming very cautious with their expansions as they keep an eye on internet sales, online competitors and the changing retail climate,” Smith continues. “Every deal is scrutinized from the beginning of the LOI negotiations, to real estate committees and lease negotiations.  Deals are taking longer and longer to complete. Ground-up retail centers also take approximately five to 10 years from inception to grand opening due to the extensive entitlement processes, impact fees and environmental litigation you find in most municipalities. ”

While Caruso experienced the latter, undergoing 12 public hearings with the Pacific Palisades Community Council, the City Planning Commission, the City Council’s Planning & Land Use Management Committee and the full City Council, his project persisted, though not without some changes favored by residents.

— By Nellie Day, contributing writer. This article is part of the Retail Insight newsletter by Shopping Center Business, which includes a brief series of articles and videos surrounding some of the retail industry’s biggest gatherings, including ICSC Western Conference & Dealmaking. Some of the articles and the videos in the publication are created in conjunction with our content partners, which sponsor the newsletter. Click here to subscribe and to see archived newsletters.

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