No. 42

Farmer's Market Redevelopment

Seven long years after securing city approval, the Gilmore family announced that it would go ahead with a plan to develop a major shopping mall alongside its historic Farmer's Market in the Fairfax district.

The family has hired developer Rick Caruso to undertake the $100 million park-like project, to be called The Grove. It has been designed as a 640,000-square-foot mall of restaurants, movie theaters and upscale retail stores.

The Gilmores' selection of Caruso came as little surprise, considering he has developed some of the area's most successful retail projects in recent years including the Commons at Calabasas, the Promenade at Westlake, and Encino Marketplace.

News of the project had originally alarmed local preservationists, who expressed concern that the project might involve razing the historic Farmer's Market. That collection of shops and stores has operated continuously since 1934, when farmers from the San Fernando Valley set up produce stands there.

Today, Farmer's Market located at the corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue has become a must-see on tour-bus routes, attracting an estimated 6 million visitors a year.

Caruso and the Gilmores have promised that the core of the existing Farmer's Market will remain intact, with The Grove being developed around it.

The Gilmores have been wanting to develop additional income-producing facilities on their property for years, but their earlier attempts were stymied either by local opposition, or by adverse economic conditions. This time, there's little excuse: The city's 1991 approval is still in effect and the area is booming.

R.W. Greene

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