Retail Mega-Projects

Here's the status of the major retail projects around L.A. County

Paseo Colorado, Pasadena:

TrizecHahn Development; $135 million mixture of retail, office, restaurant, entertainment and residential; opened Sept. 28.

CityPlace, Long Beach:

Diversified Realty Corp.; $75 million project to replace former Long Beach Plaza with pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use center; site cleared, foundations going in, earthquake retrofit of parking structure underway; opening in summer 2002.

Sherman Oaks Galleria:

Douglas Emmett & Co.; Replacing old fortress-like indoor mall and creating outdoor plaza with 16-screen movie theater, shops and eateries; opening in stages this fall; Cheesecake Factory opened last month; theater to open by end of October; rest of shops to fill in through November.

Farmers Market, Fairfax District:

Caruso Affiliated Holdings and A.F. Gilmore Co.; Gilmore handling $45 million, 140,000-square-foot expansion of original market, Caruso building $150 million The Grove at Farmers Market, a retail and entertainment component; Gilmore's portion to open March 14, 2002; The Grove to open March 15.

TrizecHahn Development Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland project has had to overcome all kinds of hurdles political as well as financial. Little did anyone know that the Canadian developer also would be confronting recession and terrorism.

The entertainment/retail complex is scheduled to open on Nov. 8 hardly opportune timing considering that local shoppers are tightening their belts and overseas visitors are staying home in droves.

"If they had their choice, they sure as hell wouldn't have had this environment to open in," said Richard Giss, a partner in the retail services group at Deloitte & Touche LLP.

Larry Kosmont, a partner in the real estate consulting firm Kosmont Partners, expects the debut to be underwhelming. "This particular holiday season is likely to be more subdued and more somber than most. The American public has run out of spending gas," he said. Eventually, though, Kosmont expects the project to do well, noting that "you don't open for one season. You open for the long haul."

Security important

Hollywood & Highland has been a block-and-a-half of hope for the past three years. Civic, community and business officials have promised the 645,000-square-foot project would be the colossal cornerstone all of Hollywood could rally around.

In addition to 425,000 square feet of retail space, the development includes the 180,000-square-foot Kodak Theatre, which will be the new home of the Academy Awards. There also will be a 2,000-seat, six-screen cineplex theater and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, catered by Wolfgang Puck.

There is no denying the terrorist attacks have instilled a new sense of insecurity among Americans. Whether people feel safe will go a long way toward the success or failure of Hollywood & Highland, as well.

"They have to have a visible security plan in place," said Robert Starkman, a partner in the real estate advisory services group at Ernst & Young LLP. "That means uniformed guards, maybe even checking bags. It has to be visible and they have to publicize it."

Russ Joyner, vice president and general manager of Hollywood & Highland, said the center would have a mix of uniformed and plain-clothed security personnel. There will be more than 100 cameras around the project.

"Certainly, the events of the last few weeks have changed a lot," he said. "We have to look at alternative ways to create a user-friendly atmosphere."

A falloff in tourism, particularly among the Japanese who have a special affection for Hollywood, will put additional pressure on TrizecHahn to live up to promises that Hollywood & Highland is not just a novelty for foreign visitors.

"You're going to get a lot of locals who are going to want to see it," Starkman said. "The question is whether they want to come back."

Captive audience

Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County, said the local audience is there, particularly in light of the tourism fallout. Looking at the region from Santa Barbara County to Imperial County and from Kern County to San Diego County, Kyser said there's a captive audience of 21 million.

"What they have to do is capitalize on that and make sure people around the region want to drive down and see it," Kyser said.

Dick Carter of Centers Business Management in Encino said the date of the opening might actually be an advantage, even though the Christmas shopping season will be well under way by then.

"Fortunately, it's at least 30 days away and this image (of terrorism) will start to fade," Carter said.

Giss pointed out that new retail developments always generate curiosity, and people will be looking for diversions from their anxiety. "If I was a retailer, I'd have my best expectations for my newest stores," he said.

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