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Americana clamps down on free parking

November 19, 2009|By Zain Shauk

DOWNTOWN — The Americana at Brand this week retreated on its free weekday parking offer, reinstituting daily fees ahead of its evening Christmas tree lighting event and kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

The shopping center will offer free parking with validation for Americana shoppers, but decided to revert to its original payment structure to prevent any overcrowding of its parking structures, said Jennifer Gordon, vice president of Caruso Affiliated, which owns the mixed-use behemoth.

Until this week, parking was free at the mall between Monday and Thursday.

“Right now we need to make room and accommodate our customers that want to be here,” Gordon said. “We’re still offering free parking [with validation].”

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Caruso Affiliated did not expect the change to affect shopping at the mall, even during a recession where consumers have expressed an interest in increased savings, Gordon said.

“Its never been an issue at The Grove,” Gordon said of parking rates at another of the firm’s large shopping centers, “and I definitely don’t think it’s going to be an issue here.”

The move was a surprising change in policy after a period when visitors had enjoyed free parking, said Brian Connett, professor of marketing at the Cal State Northridge College of Business and Economics.

“It seems to be a bit of a backward step,” Connett said.

Despite the change, Gordon acknowledged that the Americana had not experienced overcrowding of its parking structure to a point where shoppers were having trouble finding spaces.

But the company was taking steps to assure visitors planning to shop at the mall would not have difficulties finding spaces during the holiday season, she said.

“It’s to cater to our customers that are here to shop and it kind of regulates the parking,” she said.

The Glendale Galleria will continue to offer free parking daily, preserving a long-standing policy that is, along with the shopping center’s extensive retail selection, one of the site’s main advantages, said Janet LaFevre, senior marketing director for the mall.

“It’s absolutely a competitive advantage in Los Angeles,” LaFevre said. “Customers are always looking for plentiful and free parking, especially during these economic times when they really are going to be stretching their budgets.”

She said she expected the Americana’s parking change would divert more downtown shoppers to the Galleria’s free lots, regardless of which shopping destination they were visiting.

“We’re happy to accommodate anyone,” LaFevre said. “Anything that supports the downtown area, we feel is really positive.”

Still, the Americana’s change will likely not affect the amount of shoppers who make purchases at the mall, said Judee Kendall, executive director of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

“I don’t think it will keep people away from the Americana,” Kendall said. “I think people will pay to park there. I think people who want to shop there will park there even though there’s a charge.”


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