Unraveling the Historical Threads
Once upon a time, in the bustling heart of Torrance, California, emerged a shopping haven that would soon morph into an emblem of retail innovation and community spirit.
The tale of Del Amo Fashion Center began to unfold as the ribbons were cut at The Broadway store on February 16, 1959, heralding the dawn of a new era in retail evolution. The saga continued with the founding of an open-air shopping utopia named Del Amo Shopping Center right next to it.
With the grand entrance of iconic anchor stores such as JCPenney, Sears, and Woolworths in 1961, the mall’s allure began to shimmer far and wide.
“A narrative steeped in retail glory and community engagement, Del Amo Fashion Center is more than just a mall—it’s a reflection of Torrance’s vibrant cultural tapestry.”
As the pages of the calendar fluttered away, Del Amo’s retail landscape burgeoned, reaching the pinnacle of glory between 1981 and 1992 when it reigned supreme as the largest shopping mall in the United States.
Its expansive corridors echoed with the laughter of excited shoppers, its shelves brimmed with a myriad of merchandise, and its ambiance resonated with the ethos of Torrance.
However, the tides of time brought the colossal Mall of America in 1992, which nudged Del Amo to the second spot. Yet, the spirit of Del Amo remained unscathed, and it continued to be a realm where retail dreams met reality.
The Evolutionary Dance: Del Amo Fashion Center’s Progressive Saga
The 1980s marked a significant chapter in the Del Amo Fashion Center narrative, particularly in November 1981, when a remarkable transformation ensued.
The two formerly distinct entities, Del Amo Fashion Square and Del Amo Center, entwined in a ceremonial “marriage of the malls,” giving birth to a unified Del Amo Fashion Center.
This union was symbolized by the opening of a concourse over Carson Street, forming a bridge that connected the two centers.
It heralded the establishment of a new J.W. Robinson’s at the northern end of Del Amo Center. The mall didn’t just expand; it metamorphosed with renovated infrastructure that included a diverse food court named the “International Food Court” and a modern, computerized help system, a novelty of that era.
With this union, Del Amo Fashion Center sprawled expansively to become the largest indoor shopping center globally, setting a benchmark in the retail realm. But, like any entity, it, too, witnessed a series of changes, ups and downs, as the years rolled by.
The late ’80s and early ’90s saw a reshuffling of retail spaces, with Ohrbach’s closing down in 1987, making way for a Swedish-style furniture retailer STØR. However, STØR’s journey was short-lived, and the early ’90s saw its exit.
Its erstwhile space transitioned into a clearance center for STØR merchandise before being subdivided into popular retail spaces for Marshall’s and TJ Maxx in the late ’90s.
The cinematic experience at the mall evolved, too, with the United Artists theater bowing out in 1991 when a 9-screen Mann theater was inaugurated outside the mall, enriching the entertainment quotient of the region.
The retail landscape continued its evolutionary dance with I.Magnin stepped out in 1989, and Old Navy replaced part of its store. Meanwhile, the basement of the former Del Amo Center welcomed Burlington Coat Factory.
The mid-’90s saw a significant retail shuffle. The merger of Bullocks and The Broadway into Macy’s West in 1996 transformed the former Bullock’s into Macy’s Apparel store.
Although initially, attempts were made to sell the building to Bloomingdale’s, by July 1999, it re-emerged as a Macy’s home and furniture gallery, becoming its largest stand-alone home furnishing store in Southern California.
The ground floor of this vast space metamorphosed into Jo-Ann’s fabric and crafts store, adding a creative flair to the mall’s offering.
Yet, not all transitions were celebratory. The dawn of the new millennium brought challenges as consumer shopping patterns shifted and competition stiffened, particularly from the neighboring Nordstrom-anchored South Bay Galleria that had opened its doors in 1985.
The year 2000 saw the closure of the Mann Theater, which later became LA Fitness, adding a health and fitness dimension to Del Amo’s portfolio.
The same period witnessed the exit of two anchors, Montgomery Ward and Woolworth’s, due to bankruptcy, leaving a void in the mall’s north wing.
However, the arrival of a two-level Barnes & Noble bookstore on the mall’s perimeter was a silver lining, ensuring that the narrative of Del Amo Fashion Center remained as engaging as the plethora of books housed in this new entrant.
Through all these transitions, Del Amo Fashion Center showcased a resilient spirit, embracing change and continuing to offer a diverse retail and community experience.
This chapter of evolution reflects the dynamic essence of Del Amo Fashion Center, embodying the changing tides of retail yet standing firm as a significant part of Torrance, CA’s retail and cultural landscape.
Transition and Expansion: Del Amo’s New Phase
In 2002, The Mills Corporation acquired Del Amo Fashion Center from Glazer’s family for $420 million. Soon after, Mills sold a half-interest in the property to funds managed by JPMorgan Fleming.
By June 2005, a $160 million redevelopment was initiated, targeting the former northeastern wing once housing Montgomery Ward and Woolworth’s. This project renovated 670,000 square feet and expanded the mall by 100,000 square feet.
The transformation continued with Robinsons-May converting to a second full-line Macy’s West, termed Macy’s South, on September 9, 2006, while Macy’s Apparel transitioned to Macy’s North.
The mall embraced a fresh outdoor aura with the Lifestyle Court opening on September 14, 2006, featuring a two-story flagship Forever 21, Lucky Strike Lanes, and an AMC Theatres 18-screen multiplex.
In 2007, the ownership narrative took another turn when Simon Property Group and Farallon Capital Management acquired The Mills Corporation.
Simon assumed management of Del Amo, marking its digital presence with a revamped website in April 2008, aligning Del Amo’s online platform with other Simon/Mills malls.
Through these transitions, Del Amo Fashion Center emerged with a renewed architectural and retail identity, continuing to be a significant retail cornerstone in Torrance, CA.
Del Amo Fashion Center: Embracing Transformation
In the wake of acquiring a greater ownership stake, Simon unveiled preliminary revamp plans for Del Amo, which Torrance residents found lacking in clarity and excitement. The narrative changed in late 2012 when detailed redevelopment plans were shared, guided by Hollywood-based architecture firm 5+design.
The vision was to replace the mall’s north end with a Californian coastal-designed wing of luxury shops, aiming to rival affluent shopping centers in West LA and Orange County.
The first redevelopment phase kicked off in 2013, focusing on transforming the wing of shops above Carson Street into a new food court, Patio Cafes.
Completed by spring 2014, it set the stage for the next phase: consolidating the three Macy’s stores into two, which happened in 2014, followed by Dick’s Sporting Goods moving into the former Macy’s Home space in 2017.
On October 9, 2015, after 18 months of construction, the northern portion re-opened as a two-story Fashion Wing, boasting a “beach elegance” aesthetic and housing new and relocated upscale retailers and eateries. Meanwhile, minor renovations at the south end made way for Dave & Buster’s and a relocated Marshalls store by 2018.
In November 2019, the former Orbach’s building transitioned into a Mitsuwa Marketplace supermarket, with the property’s Sears store closing the following year.
The vacant Sears property, encompassing 22.4 acres, was set for acquisition by Simon Property Group for around $110 million. Nearby, Fasha Mahjoor planned to develop housing, albeit not high-density, near the mall.
In January 2022, Sweetgreen and Keisuke Ramen King replaced the defunct Great Maple. The positive change continues as, in June 2023, an Apple Store was announced to open by March 2024, marking another milestone in Del Amo’s journey of transformation and re-establishing itself as a premier shopping haven in the South Bay region of Los Angeles.
Gazing into the Future: Unveiling the Prospects
With a legacy rich in retail innovation and community engagement, Del Amo Fashion Center stands on the cusp of a new horizon. The long-term vision for the mall is as clear as the sunny skies of California – to continue evolving as a hub of retail and communal interactions.
The future holds a promise of more exciting retail brands docking at Del Amo’s shores, more green spaces for families to unwind, and more avenues for the community to engage and celebrate the spirit of Torrance.
Del Amo Fashion Center is not just about retail; it’s about creating memories, forging bonds, and celebrating the community’s vibrant spirit. It’s a realm where every visit offers a palette of experiences, painting your days with hues of joy, discovery, and a sense of belonging.
“At Del Amo Fashion Center, every corridor echoes with tales of the past, present, and the exciting prospects the future holds.”
A Day of Chaos: The August 27th Tumult at Del Amo
The tranquility of a usual Sunday shopping spree at Del Amo Fashion Center was shattered on the afternoon of August 27, 2023, when sudden chaos broke out in its bustling hallways.
The mall, known for its serene shopping environment, found itself in the eye of a storm as a large-scale brawl involving hundreds of teenagers broke out, causing a ripple of panic amongst shoppers and employees alike.
As the sun cast its warm, golden rays on Del Amo Fashion Center, little did the shoppers know that a whirlpool of chaos would soon disrupt the calm ambiance.
The clock ticked away innocently as patrons meandered through the aisles, their laughter and chatter filling the air. Suddenly, the melodic hum of a regular shopping day was shattered by a crescendo of shrieks and shouts as a brawl erupted within the mall’s precincts.
“The essence of Del Amo Fashion Center has always been about fostering a sense of community and safety, making the events of August 27 an anomaly in its tranquil history.”
The mall’s security personnel were swiftly joined by police from multiple agencies, attempting to restore peace amidst the tumult. The air buzzed with tension as law enforcement officials worked tirelessly to disperse the crowd and ensure the safety of the mall’s patrons.
As the news of the brawl spread like wildfire, the community was left in a state of shock and disbelief. Del Amo Fashion Center, a place synonymous with leisurely shopping and family outings, had witnessed an event that left an indelible mark on its illustrious history.
The event was not just a test of the mall’s security apparatus but a stark reminder of the unpredictability of life’s circumstances.
The management of Del Amo Fashion Center took the event to heart, vowing to enhance security measures to ensure such an incident remains a solitary blot in its otherwise stellar record of safety and community engagement.
The reflection and action following the August 27 brawl underscore Del Amo’s unwavering commitment to providing a safe, enjoyable shopping experience for all.
“The swift response and subsequent reflections post-incident reflect the mall’s earnest endeavor to ensure the safety and well-being of its patrons, reaffirming its position as a cornerstone of the community.”
The incident of August 27 was not just a day of chaos; it was a testament to the resilience and unity of the Del Amo Fashion Center community, a reminder of the mall’s core values, and a stepping stone towards a safer, more secure shopping haven.
Conclusion: A Chronicle of Retail Splendor
As the curtains draw on our exploration of Del Amo Fashion Center, a narrative rich in retail grandeur, architectural prowess, and community spirit unfolds before our eyes.
This mall is not just a cornerstone of Torrance’s retail landscape; it’s a living, breathing entity that evolves with the community’s aspirations. It’s a place where the essence of Torrance is celebrated and where the community converges to revel in a myriad of retail and dining experiences.
Del Amo Fashion Center is not just a mall; it’s a chronicle of Torrance’s retail journey, a place where every visit is a celebration of life’s little joys.
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