Bullock's is about to become Brea Mall's sixth retail anchor as part of a $120-million remake aimed at enabling Orange County's third-biggest shopping center to remain competitive.
In all, five malls have already remodeled or announced major face lifts as they fight to keep or improve their shares of the county's $113.7 billion in annual retail sales. At the same time, many major retailers are building new stores or adding space to existing facilities in the county.
Bullock's decision to move into the Brea Mall is significant not only because it gives the center the second-largest concentration of major retailers in the county but also because it apparently signals the end of Bullock's 19-year presence at nearby La Habra Fashion Square.
Officials of Corporate Property Investors, the New York-based owner of Brea Mall, declined to comment on Bullock's decision to move into Brea, and officials at Bullock's and Federated Department Stores, which owns the chain, danced around the issue.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Friday October 2, 1987 Orange County Edition Business Part 4 Page 7 Column 6 Financial Desk 1 inches; 19 words Type of Material: Correction
A story Thursday in The Times incorrectly reported total retail sales in Orange County for 1986. The correct figure is $13.7 billion.
"We have an interest in developing stores anytime there's an opportunity," said Marshall E. Baskin, research director with Federated. Jack McCarley, a vice president with Bullock's, said a move into Brea is "a lot of speculation right now."
But several outside sources confirmed that Bullock's has aced out J.C. Penney, the other contender for the sixth anchor slot at Brea. JW Robinson's has already signed on as the fifth anchor.
Brea's other anchors--Nordstrom, Sears, the Broadway and May Co.--"would rather have (Bullock's) here than down the street," said one source, referring to the Bullock's store about 10 miles away at La Habra Fashion Square.
Bullock's is "going to abandon La Habra. There's no doubt about it in my mind," said a developer who asked not to be identified. "The whole third floor is closed there because there's not sufficient retail sales to justify it."
At Brea Mall, where retail sales hit $178 million last year, Bullock's will join 75 new specialty shops, to give the mall 215 smaller stores as well as six anchors.
With a 60% increase in space, to 1.4 million square feet, Brea Mall will become one of Orange County's biggest shopping centers, with sales expected to double to almost $400 million annually. At least theoretically, that would leapfrog the mall over Westminster Mall and into second place--lagging behind only South Coast Plaza--in gross sales in Orange County.
The Westminster center, also owned by Corporate Property Investors, currently is in second place with $188 million in retail sales last year. Martin Fell, CPI's senior vice president, Wednesday confirmed that Westminster has been earmarked for a $20-million refurbishment.
Fell said CPI expects the enlarged and redesigned Brea Mall to serve shoppers with a median income of about $40,000, who are expected to come to Brea from a 10-mile radius that includes Diamond Bar, Pomona, Yorba Linda, Placentia and North Fullerton. Residents of Pomona and Diamond Bar have "been going to Montclair since it remodeled. We hope to draw that back," Fell said.
The expansion and renovation of Brea Mall, which had its 10th birthday in September, was related in detail Wednesday to mall tenants. It is being done "obviously, (because) we want to make some money and also because we're faced with competition," Fell told mall retailers.
To help lure buyers, Brea Mall plans to move, expand and redesign its food area and add a brand new Robinson's on the site of the money-losing ice rink, which was closed this summer.
Renderings of the redone, airy mall showed scenes that could have been taken from a South Coast Plaza or a Main Place/Santa Ana.
They depict a huge glass dome over an indoor plaza lined with potted palms. White columns support balconies and arched and vaulted ceilings, and white marble replaces the existing brown carpet and brick floors.
Store fronts will be remodeled with glass, marble and stone and a California mission theme will be used outside.
Nordstrom, which moved into the mall just after it opened, is building a new 230,000-square-foot store there. And parking will be almost doubled to 9,000 spaces from 5,000 with the addition of four new parking structures.
The renovation should be finished within four years, Fall said.