Not even the glow of nostalgia can make Paddison Square, a 1960s-era shopping center, look good.
"It's getting tired," conceded Dave Dresnick, property manager for part of the aging shopping complex at the corner of Norwalk Boulevard and Imperial Highway in Norwalk. Strung along a drab parking lot, the stores have a basic box look that has not changed since the center was built.
For years there has been talk of renovating Paddison Square. In 1985 an Orange County developer had big plans to enclose the outdoor center, add 40 stores and a movie theater and attract new department stores. The proposal died, although Dresnick said remodeling is still being discussed.
The center has several owners, and Dresnick said it has been difficult to get them all to agree on a renovation scheme. The success of Los Cerritos Center and the recent renovation of Stonewood Shopping Center in Downey have also worked against Paddison's revival.
Of the 45 largest malls in Los Angeles County, Paddison Square ranked 44th in total retail sales last year, virtually the same level they were in 1984. Sales declined nearly 8% from 1988 to 1989 and the center's square-foot sales volume was a lowly $67 last year, far below any other major center in the area.
A Montgomery Ward, along with a Treasure Hunt and Thrifty Drug, dominate the center, which otherwise offers simple neighborhood services to Norwalk's largely working-class residents: a couple of banks, a self-service laundry, video store, cleaners, a post office, a doughnut shop and the like.
The House of Fabrics is closed. "Moving to Sherman Oaks," announces a sign that directs customers to other outlets in the Stonewood Mall or Whitwood Mall in Whittier.
"There are so many huge shopping malls close by. Our residents go out of the city basically," observed Bonnie Baird, assistant director of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. "Having so many malls close to us is very difficult for our shopping centers."
PADDISON SQUARE, NORWALK * Year opened: 1968
* Retail square footage: 316,801
* Anchor stores: Montgomery Ward, Thrifty Drug
* Number of stores: 32
* 1989 sales tax paid to city: Estimated $211,950
* % of city's total sales tax revenue: 3%
* Most memorable feature: Dowdy '60s look.