Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Absolutely malled in Carlsbad

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they tore the whole thing down and built condos.”

A common sight at Westfield's Carlsbad shopping center
A common sight at Westfield's Carlsbad shopping center

What’s going on with Carlsbad’s Plaza Camino Real…er…Westfield Carlsbad shopping center? Last year’s name change hasn’t seemed to help. Recently, rumors have been flying around the mall’s remaining merchants and their customers.

Are plans for Westfield's Carlsbad mall as good as dead?

In 2013, Westfield announced a long-delayed renovation of the Plaza Camino Real property. The plan was to raise the roof —literally, open up the center, orient the stores to outside entrances, and create a retail, entertainment, and dining complex that would be a “destination center.”

It started with big fanfare from city officials and center owners. The old two-story Robinsons-May became a large 24 Hour Fitness and 12-screen Regal Theater.

According to some merchants, around the end of last year, to prepare for the remodel, many merchants either had their leases bought out or were not renewed, in order to clear the path for new construction and new stores. On most days, the mall was like a ghost town, absent of shoppers with every third or fourth store empty; a façade advertised a “coming soon” upgrade.

Earlier this year, Caruso Development proposed a 21-acre shopping center on Carlsbad’s strawberry fields, just a few miles south from Westfield Carlsbad. The proposed strawberry-fields center, which was fast-tracked through the city council, is to be anchored by a Nordstrom and other high-end entertainment and retail merchants…as were plans for Westfield Carlsbad.

It was rumored that city planners privately told Westfield not to oppose Caruso, even if it would economically stall Westfield’s plans.

Westfield’s senior marketing director, Adrienne Bergeron, told the Reader on October 15, “We are disappointed by the efforts of Caruso Affiliated and its supporters to fabricate stories about Westfield, and creating a ‘straw man’ so as to divert attention away from the legitimate concerns of the citizens of Carlsbad and North County.”

Bergeron is referring to the initiative that pushed the development through without voter approval and avoided costly environmental review. Bergeron said Westfield testified at hearings, telling the council that “Caruso Affiliated has pursued this alternative as a tactic to evade proper environmental impact and other review simply to on save on costs and increase its own profit.” 

But Westfield has not financed nor been involved with recent grassroots community efforts to overturn the council’s decision. (The registrar of voters is still certifying petition signatures, which would overturn the council’s approval and allow the public to vote.)

What’s next for Westfield Carlsbad? “Westfield Carlsbad’s Phase Two commencement has been delayed to increase lease commitments, explore additional prospects/potential for the property, and allow sufficient time to complete work with city staff. We are taking a thoughtful, customer-centric approach and exploring all options.”

With new merchants now being allowed to rent vacant space, watchers of the retail industry point out that two of Westfield’s major anchors, Sears and JCPenney, have had their issues with continuing poor sales nationwide. No one would be surprised if they announced closure in the coming years. Additionally it has been speculated that Macy’s, which has two large stores in the mall (a men’s and furnishings store and a separate women’s store), will combine into one existing space.

Originally opened in 1968, it was once the largest indoor mall in San Diego County, with 1.1 million square feet of retail space and almost 200 merchants. Its last facelift was in 1989.

One customer, upon leaving the mall, said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they tore the whole thing down and built condos.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Make a wedding-and-wine statement from Nordstrom Rack and Schutz

Report from the land of brand whores
Next Article

Space Truckin’

Ace Frehley, Travis Barker, Tolan Shaw, Andy Robinson, Thousand Below
A common sight at Westfield's Carlsbad shopping center
A common sight at Westfield's Carlsbad shopping center

What’s going on with Carlsbad’s Plaza Camino Real…er…Westfield Carlsbad shopping center? Last year’s name change hasn’t seemed to help. Recently, rumors have been flying around the mall’s remaining merchants and their customers.

Are plans for Westfield's Carlsbad mall as good as dead?

In 2013, Westfield announced a long-delayed renovation of the Plaza Camino Real property. The plan was to raise the roof —literally, open up the center, orient the stores to outside entrances, and create a retail, entertainment, and dining complex that would be a “destination center.”

It started with big fanfare from city officials and center owners. The old two-story Robinsons-May became a large 24 Hour Fitness and 12-screen Regal Theater.

According to some merchants, around the end of last year, to prepare for the remodel, many merchants either had their leases bought out or were not renewed, in order to clear the path for new construction and new stores. On most days, the mall was like a ghost town, absent of shoppers with every third or fourth store empty; a façade advertised a “coming soon” upgrade.

Earlier this year, Caruso Development proposed a 21-acre shopping center on Carlsbad’s strawberry fields, just a few miles south from Westfield Carlsbad. The proposed strawberry-fields center, which was fast-tracked through the city council, is to be anchored by a Nordstrom and other high-end entertainment and retail merchants…as were plans for Westfield Carlsbad.

It was rumored that city planners privately told Westfield not to oppose Caruso, even if it would economically stall Westfield’s plans.

Westfield’s senior marketing director, Adrienne Bergeron, told the Reader on October 15, “We are disappointed by the efforts of Caruso Affiliated and its supporters to fabricate stories about Westfield, and creating a ‘straw man’ so as to divert attention away from the legitimate concerns of the citizens of Carlsbad and North County.”

Bergeron is referring to the initiative that pushed the development through without voter approval and avoided costly environmental review. Bergeron said Westfield testified at hearings, telling the council that “Caruso Affiliated has pursued this alternative as a tactic to evade proper environmental impact and other review simply to on save on costs and increase its own profit.” 

But Westfield has not financed nor been involved with recent grassroots community efforts to overturn the council’s decision. (The registrar of voters is still certifying petition signatures, which would overturn the council’s approval and allow the public to vote.)

What’s next for Westfield Carlsbad? “Westfield Carlsbad’s Phase Two commencement has been delayed to increase lease commitments, explore additional prospects/potential for the property, and allow sufficient time to complete work with city staff. We are taking a thoughtful, customer-centric approach and exploring all options.”

With new merchants now being allowed to rent vacant space, watchers of the retail industry point out that two of Westfield’s major anchors, Sears and JCPenney, have had their issues with continuing poor sales nationwide. No one would be surprised if they announced closure in the coming years. Additionally it has been speculated that Macy’s, which has two large stores in the mall (a men’s and furnishings store and a separate women’s store), will combine into one existing space.

Originally opened in 1968, it was once the largest indoor mall in San Diego County, with 1.1 million square feet of retail space and almost 200 merchants. Its last facelift was in 1989.

One customer, upon leaving the mall, said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they tore the whole thing down and built condos.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Don't forget Escondido

We're still spaying cats in San Diego
Next Article

Pepper covers Sublime for The House That Bradley Built comp

Hirie, G. Love, the Expanders, Common Kings, the Skints, Long Beach Dub Allstars, and Trevor Young also contribute
Comments
14

it's a lovely mall. we don't need that carpetbagger, Caruso and his stinking nordstroms.

Oct. 16, 2015

fellow Carlsbad insurgents: let's all agitate, aggravate and terminate this carpetbagger invasion!

Oct. 16, 2015

Westfield is never going to rebuild that mall if Caruso gets to build his traffic-choking mega-mall on the lagoon shore.

Why would they rebuild? There is a glut of shopping centers in the area already. Caruso's mega-mall would have Nordstrom and would draw away all of the high-end, high-profit smaller tenants. Westfield would be stuck with a dying Penney's, a dying Sears, two (not one, but two!) anemic Macy's stores, and a hodgepodge of low-end, low-margin stores that draw little traffic and don't pay top dollar for rent. The Westfield mall won't generate enough revenue to justify remodeling it.

Westfield will let their Carlsbad mall decay indefinitely. If they're lucky, as the article notes, Sears and Penney's will go out of business, then they only have to buy out the Macy's lease to tear the whole eyesore down -- and maybe, as that lonely Westfield shopper suggested, then they'll build cookie-cutter condos on that giant lot.

The only way that Westfield mall gets remodeled and renovated is if the Caruso mega-mall is never built.

Oct. 16, 2015

Matt, you have hit so many things on the head! The concept of the regional mall with a number of large(r) department store anchors and a plethora of smaller shops in between always seemed to me to lack some factors that would make it last. PCR opened with Sears, Penney's, May Company and Broadway as its anchors. Later on the Bullocks was added. May and Bullocks are now gone, both absorbed by Macy's which also took over Broadway. So, those three are now one, and it isn't a strong operation. Sears, as recently as last Christmas, had its survival questioned. If it goes BK again (yes, it has been into and out of bankruptcy), it probably will just be liquidated. And when that happens a huge number of malls across the "fruited plain" will be severely wounded. For a number of years Penney's has been struggling, and its long term survival is also in question.

So, the mall isn't in a good position. It might get lucky and have all its anchors survive and maybe prosper. But even it that is the case, how much rubs off onto the small shops in the mall?

The current Westfield plans are far too grandiose for the market. Malls just don't pack them in the way they did a generation ago.

Oct. 16, 2015

Actually this would be a good place to build high density mixed use housing including low income alternatives.

Oct. 16, 2015

I grew up just up the hill from that mall and remember when it was being built (yes, I'm old...er). The builders filled in a large, somewhat marshy part of Buena Vista lagoon (it extended close to El Camino Real before then) and let it settle for quite some time before beginning construction. In other words, they destroyed a pretty significant patch of natural habitat to build that mall and I doubt that that project would have been approved now. But financially, I'm sure the City of Carlsbad benefited greatly from its construction.

Oct. 17, 2015

Legislation and ballot initiatives, federal and state, that would have influenced that development came along in the early-to-mid 70's, meaning that filling in wetland would now be almost impossible. If the feds OK's something like that, the Coastal Commission would disallow it, or vice-versa. The ticking time bomb for that property might be that redevelopment for a new purpose would trigger mitigation and restoration of some of the marsh destroyed fifty years ago.

The city of Carlsbad definitely profited from having that mall inside its city limits for a long time, getting a slice of all the sales tax charged on transactions, regardless of where the customers resided.

Oct. 17, 2015

Are malls dying or in transition? I don't go to malls very often, but I went to Grossmont recently and it has really changed. Walmart and Target are anchor tenants. Most of the stores I remember from my younger days are gone. It's a bunch of crappy stores with junk merchandise. I guess it's part of a couple of trends; youth that do not congregate at malls (because they use smartphones to meet.. and watch movies at home) and the shrinking middle class.

It seems Fashion Valley mall is the premier destination for the "shopping class" that have money and want to visit the upscale trendy stores. No other mall can compete with Fashion Valley for the $$$$ that will be spent, so the rest of the malls are dying or relegated to becoming big box destinations like College Grove or outlet centers.

It seems like half the citizens in Carlsbad don't even want the new shopping center proposed by Caruso. The city council approved it because of the potential sale tax receipts. Aren't there enough malls in North County already? What if they build that mall and nobody comes?

Oct. 18, 2015

Ponz, there is another mall that can pack them in and rake in the bucks, and that's University Town Center. It is now getting a major remodel, and that should make it a destination of its own. There's money in the Golden Triangle. That center was built strangely, in that it came along right after the 1974 Arab Oil Embargo, aka "The Energy Crisis." Pundits claimed that the nation and the world were running out of oil and its alternatives, and hence we needed to plan on an austere sort of existence. So, to get UTC approved it was downsized and they made it an open-air mall. Very shortly afterward, a couple retailers who would have wanted to go in there and were thwarted had that La Jolla Village Square opened across I-5. That one didn't take well and is long gone.

But as to the others such as Grossmont, Parkway Plaza, Plaza Bonita, Chula Vista and North County Fair, they're in "transition" for sure. That's transition to something less than a big retail magnets. No, there aren't enough malls in No County; there are TOO MANY now.

Oct. 19, 2015

The mall formerly known as Plaza Camino Real has been open just shy of half-a-century so it's not like it didn't have some staying power.

The owner until 2014 was the Westfield Group of Australia, which has always seemed like a weird outfit. For one thing they have tried to push Westfield brand at the expense of the well-known original names for its centers, such as Plaza Camino Real, North County Fair, University Town Centre, etc. But let's face it: shoppers at UTC ideally don't want to be shopping at a place that has the same Westfield brand as Parkway Plaza in El Cajon. I've often though the push for the Westfield brand was some sort of misguided corporate ego trip by Australians who had no clue about marketing in the USA.

They reorganized the company in 2014 so that US and European operations have different managment than their operations down under, but the Westfield brand still seems to carry all the cachet of say "K Mart" or "Target."

I don't think they'd have much of a problem getting the site re-zoned for housing: the site really is somewhat removed from the rest of Carlsbad, surrounded by lots of apartments and condos and out-of-sight for those living in the tonier neighborhoods of Carlsbad. I've always thought that Plaza Camino Real was a mall built for Oceansiders but just happened to be located across the freeway in another town.

Oct. 18, 2015

Long before Westfield came along, many advertisers were calling Plaza Camino Real "Carlsbad Mall" in their ads. They feared, I assumed, that calling it by its name would just confuse customers. The same thing happened with Escondido's mall. Oh, and then there was that small shopping center in Solana Beach at I-5 and Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Its name was Plaza of the Four Flags back in the 70's when Walker-Scott anchored it. What it is called now, I don't know, but that original name has been lost in the mists of time. Get too fancy with the name, and it just confuses folks.

Oct. 20, 2015

Look what a reader pulled about possible future plans by SANDAG for Plaza Camino Real:

Hi Ken, Have you seen SANDG's map of smart growth opportunities? Check out what's planned for the Westfield Mall...

[http://www.sandag.org/uploads/projectid/projectid_296_14003.pdf?wb48617274=73935976][1]

[1]: Hi Ken, Have you seen SANDG's map of smart growth opportunities? Check out what's planned for the Westfield Mall... http://www.sandag.org/uploads/projectid/projectid_296_14003.pdf?wb48617274=73935976

Oct. 20, 2015

It was reported this week that Westfield has given up on Carlsbad and is selling Plaza Camino Real to Rouse Properties, an operator of about 30 "downmarket" malls mostly built in the 1960s and 1970s.

http://sdbj.com/news/2015/nov/04/westfield-plans-sell-carlsbad-mall-rouse-propertie/

Nov. 4, 2015

STORY UPDATE: As of 11-5-15 the mall has been sold and transfered to a NY firm.

Nov. 5, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close