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Bold plan needed at Marketplace

November 13, 2010

Perhaps it was its questionable design, the choice of tenants, the glitz of the Americana at Brand, or the economy.

Perhaps it was all of the above, but whatever the cause, the Glendale Marketplace is suffocating under the weight of its own bricks with no sign of a viable prop. Not even bullish billionaire developer Rick Caruso had much good to say, calling the 2.2-acre retail center "so poorly designed that I don't know what you would do with it."

The current owners apparently still owe $44 million on the property, according to the firm hired to sell it. And taken together with the lingering economic hangover and poor lending conditions, the outlook for this troubled maze of a shopping center looks dismal.

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There's been talk at City Hall of using the Marketplace as an anchor for an arts and entertainment district, but the center's track record is disheartening. When not even major retail chains like Marshall's or Linens 'n Things can make prominent streetfront space work, that doesn't bode well for other venues, no matter the city assistance.

It will take a strong arm and a bold plan to revitalize the center, which, for good reason, has started to fade from public consciousness. Whatever it turns out to be — entertainment company, arts venue, retail store, re-zoned overhaul, demolition — it's going to have to be big.

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