Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Rick Caruso explains why his 'Americana' outdoor mall model works

by Take Two®

Shoppers wait to cross the street from The Americana at Brand shopping complex to the Glendale Galleria shopping mall in Glendale, California on November 27, 2009. The National Retail Federation said it expected 134 million people to be out shopping on 'Black Friday,' the big shopping day which comes one day after the Thanksgiving Day holiday, as well as on following Saturday and Sunday. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The Americana at Brand is an outdoor shopping center smack in the middle of Glendale. But walking around it almost feels like you're in another mini-city — or maybe Disneyland, with its pedestrian streets, trolley, huge fountain and constant music.

Americana at Brand is the work of L.A. developer Rick Caruso, who's also responsible for The Grove in the Fairfax district and about 10 other projects throughout California and Nevada. He's championed mixed-use buildings, where people live, shop and just come to hang out.

Caruso says indoor malls are a thing of the past.

“The highest grossing stores anywhere in the world are outside, on a street,” he said citing Madison Avenue in New York City as an example. “Malls have got to reinvent themselves. They can’t just be the tired, indoor mall and expect to survive when there are so many different channels for people to buy products.”

But you won’t see his projects just anywhere.

When asked if he’d build in a community like Inglewood, he said: “We are very careful about the demographic; we need a lot of people to support these properties, so we want to be located where there are a lot of people living. We have a pretty good formula; we know what works.”

Caruso considered running for Los Angeles mayor in 2013 and said politics could be on the horizon again — if the circumstances are right. 

“I love people; I love this city, and I really believe I can make a difference,” Caruso said. “I’m not constrained by the typical constraints that politicians have, which mostly is I’m willing to risk my job every day. Since I don’t need to do it, I can make decisions that are right for the people.”

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