Caruso is bullish on Brand

Developer says betting on Glendale, others accuse him of 'cannibalization.'

March 25, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk,

Borders bookstore, with its three-story curved glass front looming over Broadway and Brand Boulevard, is on its last legs, selling everything not bolted down as its corporate parent descends into bankruptcy.

Adjacent shopping centers, the Glendale Exchange and Glendale Marketplace, have struggled for years. Across Brand Boulevard, the former Mervyns site has been vacant since 2008.

But Rick Caruso is on a Glendale shopping spree. In the last few months the developer’s Glendale empire — the 15.5-acre Americana at Brand and a corner strip mall on Central Avenue — expanded to include two new properties flanking the Americana and another 140,000 square feet inside the Glendale Galleria.


Caruso lured Nordstrom — one of four Galleria anchor stores — away from its home of more than 30 years and will place it in a new building on the properties he just acquired at Colorado Street and Orange Avenue.

“I’m betting on Glendale,” he said. “I’m making a big bet, and I think people can talk with their money.”

Caruso’s surge comes as other money has been walking away from downtown.

Raud Alamin, a Bay Area investor who owns the Borders building, said the bookseller has about a month to secure a tenant to take over its lease. The agency handling Borders’ assets has been contacted by two drug store chains about the Glendale site, he said, though a Rite Aid is open steps away at the Americana.

But Alamin said Borders may not consummate a deal on the timeframe set by the bankruptcy court.

“If none of that develops, by the end of April we would take over the property,” Alamin said.

Last year he was in discussions with outdoor gear retailer REI, but Alamin said talks have cooled. He said he also would consider selling the building.

“We’re exploring all options,” he said.

General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based owner of the Galleria, suffered a blow when Caruso struck his deal with Nordstrom, which, like many department stores, owned the property it occupied within the mall. It is the second anchor General Growth has lost in recent years, including Mervyns, which filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and closed all its stores.

General Growth acquired the Mervyn’s space, but has yet to find a new tenant.

Whether he backfills the Nordstrom space with one or several retailers, Caruso made it clear that he doesn’t want the redevelopment at the Galleria to stop.

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