There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about the future of our local mall, the Westside Pavilion. This enormous structure has been a famous fixture in Rancho Park for about thirty years. It has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows and was once considered the quintessential destination spot for shoppers looking for the ultimate mall experience: to encounter a plethora and wide variety of retail stores all in one spot without having to drive from place to place.
Well times, as they say, are a’changing and the future of this great dinosaur of a shopping mecca is at stake. Nordstroms announced a while ago that they would be closing up shop in 2016 and heading east to Century City. At first locals were trying to guess what would take its place but now the rumor seems to be that once Nordstroms goes away, the rest of the mall will shutter as well. I’ve read that the entire mall will be torn down and mixed use buildings (that would include both housing and shopping) will take its place.
The boxy indoor malls have lost their luster ever since the more popular outdoor strolling/shopping spots such as the 3rd Street Promenade and the Grove came into the public’s embrace. Developers of these architecturally stylish shopping streets took into account that Southern Californians like to spend money while feeling the sunshine on their faces. Being stuck in a windowless mall is the antithesis of the true Californian experience.
Malls like the Westside Pavilion also took a strong beating with the rise of the internet. Once the internet showed people how utterly easy it was to shop from home, they did just that: stayed home! Suddenly the indoor mall became more desolate once people realized that they didn’t have to battle each other for parking spots, wait in long lines or deal with the headache of lugging heavy packages. Amazon made it so easy to browse from your bathrobe and with the click of a button, find exactly what you needed and have it delivered right to your doorstep.
But that’s not to say all shoppers prefer to conduct business from the comfort of their homes. Some still enjoy the process of handling items, trying things on, meeting up with friends to get those necessary second opinions. But tastes today dictate that shoppers aren’t just looking for the latest in trendy fashions. They also want to have dinner, see a movie, browse around a bit and then head upstairs to their condo with a city view.
No one knows for sure what will happen with the Westside Pavilion, whether it will be torn down or kept as-is. While I liked having a big mall on Pico/Westwood and the services and jobs it provided for my community, I’m also kind of excited to see what might go in its place and how our neighborhood could be made even better as a result of the development. Only time will tell what will happen but I’m feeling very optimistic that whatever it is will be a very good thing for us all.