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Improvements in store for rival downtown Glendale malls

The changes include Nordstrom moving from the Glendale Galleria to the Americana at Brand and Bloomingdale's opening just down the street in the Galleria.

April 25, 2013|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • L.A. developer Rick Caruso, overlooking the Americana at Brand, has announced $60 million in improvements to the Glendale mall, which he owns.
L.A. developer Rick Caruso, overlooking the Americana at Brand, has announced… (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles…)

Long-time rival shopping centers Americana at Brand and the Glendale Galleria are tying the knot with splashy new improvements on Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale.

The changes come as the side-by-side malls usher in new premium tenants — Nordstrom moving from the Galleria to the Americana in September and Bloomingdale's opening just down the street in the Galleria in November.

Los Angeles real estate developer Rick Caruso, who owns the Americana and a portion of the Galleria, announced $60 million in improvements to the Americana focused on linking the Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's stores under construction at the two malls.

The streetscape along Brand will be improved with new restaurants, trees and landscaping.

"We are going to have one of the great boulevards in L.A.," Caruso said.

New restaurants on Brand will include Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese restaurant famous for its dumplings. Also on Brand will be Bourbon Steak, a steakhouse operated by celebrity chef Michael Mina.

Caruso Affiliated will build a long lobby that will connect the new Nordstrom rising near the middle of the Americana so that it can have an entrance onto Brand Boulevard. That entrance will be 900 feet down the block from the Brand entry to Bloomingdale's, which is being built in a long-empty space at the Galleria formerly occupied by a Mervyns department store.

Nordstrom will house a restaurant called Bar Verde when it opens in September and a coffee bar called Ebar. The new Glendale Nordstrom will be "100% different" from the old one that dates to the 1980s, Nordstrom regional manager Bob Middlemas said.

Caruso bought the Nordstrom space in the Glendale Galleria from Nordstrom in 2011 as part of his bid to get the Seattle retailer to move to the Americana. He said Wednesday that he hopes a "major retailer" will take over the Nordstrom spot in the Galleria.

The primary owner of the Galleria is General Growth Properties Inc., which is spending nearly $60 million on renovations inside and outside also slated to be completed in the fall.

Century City to get rare new single-family homes

A vacant lot in Century City, one of the most densely developed neighborhoods in Los Angeles, will be filled with grand single-family homes by its new owner.

The 1.75-acre parcel at the corner of Century Park West and Solar Way was purchased for about $13 million by an affiliate of Los Angeles developer California Landmark Group, real estate brokerage HFF said.

Century City has nearly 10 million square feet of offices, two major hotels and a regional mall. In its compact 0.3 square mile west of Beverly Hills it also has about 2,000 residences, most of them condominiums, according to the Century City Chamber of Commerce.

The new two-story mini-mansions will become part of Century Woods, a gated residential complex built in the 1980s on the southwestern corner of Century City. The Century Woods Condo Assn. sold the unused property to the developer.

"This is a unique parcel of land," said Ken Kahan, president of California Landmark. "We look forward to bringing life to a long-dormant prime site that is adjacent to so many cultural, business and shopping areas."

Century Woods already includes 48 condos and 32 free-standing homes, the only single-family homes in Century City, Kahan said. The expansion will add 10 more homes and is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The new houses will each contain about 5,000 square feet in two stories and are expected to sell for millions of dollars apiece. The developer hopes to attract the "move down" market of wealthy Westside residents who want to be within walking distance of Century City's restaurants, theaters and other amenities, a spokesman said.

The median age of Century City residents is nearly 64, the Chamber of Commerce said.

Firm's plan to buy N.J. casino put on hold

Downey real estate company Meruelo Group's plan to buy the aging landmark Trump Plaza hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., for a bargain-basement $20 million has been put on hold by investor Carl Icahn.

That price is too low, Icahn said. The New York business mogul said he holds the mortgage for both Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. The mortgage totals $289 million, his office said.

"It's as black and white as it can be: They can't sell that casino without our consent," Icahn told the Press of Atlantic City. "It's not going for anywhere close to $20 million."

Icahn said he is not opposed to a sale, but that the buyer would have to pay more than the $20 million decided on in February when Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. agreed to sell one of the worst-performing casinos in Atlantic City to Meruelo Group. The sale was expected to close in May.

"We are disappointed to announce that our acquisition of the Trump Plaza cannot be completed as planned at this time because Trump Entertainment has been unable to obtain a release of the mortgage held by their senior secured lender," Meruelo Group said in a statement.

"However, we are very heartened by the fact that we have been able to secure from Trump Entertainment an option to purchase the Plaza later this year if they can satisfy their mortgage with their current lender," the Meruelo statement said. "We remain fully committed to acquiring the Plaza, and are focused on becoming a part of the Atlantic City community."

Developer Donald Trump built the 900-room hotel and casino at a cost of $210 million and opened it to fanfare in 1984. It struggled in recent years despite its central spot on the famous Boardwalk.

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