Sherman Oaks Galleria was ground zero for a popular ’80s stereotype — the Valley Girl, a spoiled, ditzy teenager who couldn’t complete a sentence without the word “like.” But after a multimillion-dollar mall remodel, today’s Valley Girls are toting briefcases and listening to outdoor concerts.
The Galleria went the way of more than a few enclosed malls: It became an open-air center for business, shopping, and entertainment. Its owners liken the redo to a European plaza or a town square. The Douglas Emmett real estate company started by tearing off the Galleria’s roof, luring tenants to new office space, and cutting out retail stores. Then the mall added free concerts, free underground parking, a fitness center, spa services, and a community room for meetings.
Experts say the idea is catching on in other cities, too. In Denver, for instance, the Villa Italia mall will be reborn as a residential, retail, and business community called Belmar. “The old mall concept doesn’t work anymore,” says Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Forecasting. “The modern mall, in 20 years, 10 years, and even now in some cases, will be a part of the overall organic community and in a location that’s much more a part of the city.”
The death of the shopping mall? For those old ’80s Vals, that’s, well, like a total bummer. The rest of us might disagree.