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Months of Planning Come to End as Glendale Galleria Packs 'Em In

December 21, 1987|MARTHA GROVES | Times Staff Writer

On Nov. 1, workers started stringing 30,000 white lights throughout the mall, and the next week, 2,000 feet of garlands were hung. A couple of days before Thanksgiving, all that was left to do in the way of decoration was to sprinkle snow around Santa's area in front of J. C. Penney.

Despite the months of planning, this holiday season has held some surprises for mall officials. For example, they prepared for a hectic day on Saturday the 12th, only to have a dismal turnout.

Since its 1976 opening, the galleria has had a major financial and, some would argue, psychological influence on Glendale. Blessed with a prime location near several freeways, the Glendale Galleria draws from an area with a total population of about 700,000. The mall now has 250 stores, nearly twice the number of many other large regional centers.

"It is one of three powerhouse malls in Southern California," said Jack A. Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Having begun with a tenant mix that was repetitive--replete with similar shoe stores and jewelry boutiques--the mall lately has been in a more upscale mode. The addition of Nordstrom and the rest of a new wing in 1983 prompted some pricier stores to come on board. Koala Blue, Laura Ashley, BBC 1 and several European fashion boutiques are among recent additions. Remodelings by Buffums, J. C. Penney and others have helped, too. Mall management is still figuring out how to allocate a large space abandoned earlier this year by the defunct Ohrbach's chain.

The mall also accounts for the vast majority of the city's retail sales, last year bringing in $300 million of the total $370 million rung up by the city's merchants. Of that amount, the city reaps 1%.

Disney's Choice

"It has helped downtown revitalize and gain considerable strength," said Susan Shick, deputy executive director of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency. The agency is drumming up support for a Galleria III expansion that would focus on high-fashion stores. Among retailers that reportedly have voiced interest are Macy's, Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The mall's success was one factor that prompted Walt Disney Co. to locate its first Disney Store there. The outlet sells clothing and other items featuring Disney cartoon characters.

"It's an extremely successful regional shopping center, it is an attractive and well-maintained mall . . . and it's close enough to our Burbank studios that we can keep an eye on it. For a test store that's important," said Stephen B. Burke, vice president and general manager of the Disney Store.

In this, the store's first holiday season, "Christmas started early and has built to the point where we literally are having trouble keeping stuff on the shelf," Burke said. "During the day, it's a mad rush to keep things on the shelves."

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