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Beverly Center to Begin Major Renovation


The Beverly Center said it will begin a major face lift--including the addition of a rooftop terrace--this month as shopping malls across the Westside of Los Angeles undergo a wave of remodeling to woo affluent consumers and compete against new rivals.

Renovations have also begun or are planned for the Westside Pavilion near Westwood and Santa Monica Place, both owned by Santa Monica-based Macerich Co. A few blocks east of the Beverly Center, Caruso Affiliated Holdings is preparing to build a $100-million open-air mall that will include a Nordstrom department store adjacent to the historic Farmers Market. Meanwhile, construction is in full swing on Hollywood & Highland, a $430-million entertainment and retail center rising in the heart of Hollywood.

The new construction reflects the region's economic rebound, new retailers that want to enter the urban market and strong retail sales. At the Westside Pavilion, for example, sales per square foot in 1999 reached $409, up from $386, without any major remodeling.

"Every existing property is either going through a renovation or an upgrade of its tenant mix," said retail consultant Rob York at the Fransen Co. in Santa Monica.

But none of the existing Westside malls, which boast combined annual sales of about $1 billion, should take the booming retail market for granted, industry analysts said. In fact, the improvements are viewed as defensive measures to retain customers from new rivals.

"If you're not planning to expand it, rehab it or enhance it in any way, you are just treading water," said Brent F. Howell, a retail leasing broker at CB Richard Ellis.

The Beverly Center is a prime example. Towering above La Cienega and Beverly boulevards, the nearly 1-million-square-foot shopping center features more than 160 stores, including Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores.

But the retail fortress, which is owned by Taubman Centers of Michigan, is expected to come under pressure in 2002 when the Grove at Farmers Market opens nearby. In addition to a Nordstrom, the Grove plans flashy flagship stores for Banana Republic, Crate & Barrel and Gap.

"The Beverly Center will feel the impact and that's why they're doing what they are doing," said York, at Fransen Co.

The Beverly Center plans to redesign its valet parking area, remodel its interior and repaint the exterior. The upgrade is expected to be completed by November.

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