Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CoCo Walk, Coconut Grove (Miami), FL

     As our final Miami post for the time being, we will take a look at one of the city's most overlooked shopping venues : Coconut Grove's CoCo Walk. Named for the city's abbreviation CoCo Walk, CW is a lifestyle center located in the heart of the Miami neighborhood Coconut Grove. It's an acting extension to the downtown area, which has plenty of these weird mallways around, in my opinion. Most stores are locally-owned, with GAP and Victoria's Secret reciprocating on this. While there are vacancies and a recently closed Cheesecake Factory, it's not exactly a dying mall. It brings people to the area, which helps all the shops and restaurants surrounding. Not much more to be asked.
     The mall's short and small history starts in 1990, as the first of three phases opened to the public. At the time, the center's acting anchor was an AMC 16-screen operation. The second phase was completed 4 years later, adding another eight screens to the AMC, becoming the namesake 16 screens. The last phase came in 2002, adding a four-story office building and an expansion of GAP. The movie theatre underwent a few name changes the following years. AMC became Muvico in 2010, and Muvico became CinĂ©polis shortly afterward.
     Today's CoCo Walk contains about 30 spots for commercial or office development. The offices are located on  the area's fourth floor. The third floor contains the theatre and a couple spots. The second floor has a few local shops and a sports bar. The first floor holds the GAP and Victoria's Secret stores. One retailer on the second floor is a cross clothing store and Pan American Airlines museum (maybe in correlation with the old NAS a couple blocks away?). As I said before, there is a vacancy problem here.
     As for renovation/redevelopment/expansion, there's not much to be done here. Expansions are unnecessary when there are vacancies, and there is nowhere to go. Renovations aren't needed when the mall isn't that ugly or dated. Redevelopment isn't necessary too. Turning it into full offices would decline the downtown as part of the stores are destroyed. Demolition would be downright pointless. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.

Directory. I dunno how I would explain the shape of this.

Those tables are for a Starbucks on the corner.

Add caption

Looking across at the theatre.

Pan-Am museum.

All four floors in full view here. That is a gym at the top.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lincoln Road Mall, South Beach (Miami), FL

      Florida's interest in open-air malls always wonders me. Being consistently hot, humid, and rainy, an open-air mall would drive me away. And I'm from Georgia, so you can't say I'm not used to it. This affected me as we take a look at a famous example of this, Lincoln Road Mall. Only half the mall is photographed, but you should get the point. The directory was captured.

Directory peeks at the mall. IMO, the mall is only about six blocks long. Parts are filled with very tacky tourist shops
or are kinda dead.
     Lincoln Road Mall consists of ten blocks surrounding the namesake Lincoln Road. Near the midpoint is a three-story Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) in a repurposed theatre. Behind it is a Macy's. As you get closer to the beach, more touristy shops start popping up. Duplicates are also common at the mall. Four Starbucks and two Haagen-Dazs exist on street corners. A random church without AC is near the center of the mall, possibly a pointer to the "older" Lincoln Road Mall.

Local merchants are clearly out and about in the center of the mall.

     The history of the mall was a lot longer than expected. The area was once a forest of mangroves, but was cleared in 1912. A road was built through and eventually stores started popping up on it. Saks, Bonwit Teller, and a few car dealers were some of the first. Bonwit Teller would move to Bal Harbour in 1965. In the mid 1950's, Morris Lapidus was called on to redesign the street. The road was closed to traffic, and one of the first pedestrian malls was born. Lincoln Road became famous for its architecture over time.

I love malls with plenty of greenspace.

     The aforementioned architecture is pretty cool. Elaborate fountains dot the central median. Statues and art can be seen walking through the mall. Plenty of greenspace make the mall feel like more of a mall than a street. All the buildings look clean and white and fit in pretty well. 1111 Lincoln Road, a parking garage, is also near the mall. I think the only design flaw is the traffic flow in the area. Cutting off every intersecting road in mall proper would probably help with this. Parking is also done through an app, which is a pretty big pain for non-locals. 

     The one massive problem with the mall is vacancies. About a quarter of the mall is empty, which makes me wonder why they expanded twice recently, in 2006 and 2010. I feel like this might be a rent cost problem and not a person problem. Places like J. Crew and H&M can afford large stores, but more mid-market chains don't see the need. It's also touristy, and tourist traps wouldn't have cheap rent. Meanwhile, thriving Starbucks has four locations. This gives the mall an odd feel, with the mix of vacancies, duplicates, cheap touristy crap, upper-market chains, and trendy wares.
     I think the mall will continue to do well. It's clinging on a tourist bubble, and people go there for the fame and history. Foot traffic never hurts malls, and tourists may cool off at Starbucks as they walk. Walking past plenty of dressed mannequins will probably impulse you to buy some clothes as you walk. But if the decline of shopping malls ends up hurting "destination" malls, then the owners could be at a crossroads of the mall's future. Locals avoid it, tourists flock to it, and it's uncomfortable most of the time, so it's not invincible. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Shops at Merrick Park, Coral Gables, FL

     As the second installment of the Post-ASG grind, we will be looking at mall/lifestyle center Shops at Merrick Park. MP is a very interesting mall to look at in the Miami area. Truthfully, it shouldn't exist as a mall or in its state. MP is very upscale, and from driving around the city, I don't see the market for it. MP holds one of four Gucci stores in the Miami area, and the high Hispanic influence and small lots and homes don't match up. Even two feels like a stretch to me.

Classic directory photo.
     From what I can tell there is little history of the mall. The mall was developed by The Rouse Company in 2002. I believe the current anchors are original. The center was expanded in 2013, but I can't tell where the expanding took place. Today, the mall is owned by General Growth and has over 100 tenants.

Looking down to NM.

Gucci store barely visible on the far right past Mayors.
     The mall has pretty nice architecture. Being a 2002 mall, it isn't dated, but even, say, 30 years down the road, I don't think this will be necessarily ugly. The mall feels nice and vibrant with ceiling fans and large central gardens. Shapewise, the mall is a curved line enclosed mall, without the roof. Off center court are entrances to the parking garage and a lifestyle center-type area with longtime tenant Equinox Fitness.

Tunnel to mall from parking garage. Light at the end, maybe some foreshadowing?

Center court. Land and plants are obviously kept up well.

Better view of Dallas, Texas's Neiman Marcus store.

     While a mall with Gucci, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and NM definitely isn't struggling, an expansion may be needed in about a decade to stay fresh and afloat. While Miami's worst malls aren't deader than a doornail, but more like meh, Miami probably has too many malls and upscale centers. To stay relevant (Merrick Park isn't as touristy, publicized, or famous as Aventura, Dadeland, or Dolphin) I think an expansion would do well. A strip of stores would be built off the anchors and go over San Lorenzo Avenue. A walkway would connect the lifestyle center, and new store strips. This isn't anything insane.

Sorry for the shorter post. Little history does that. Here's some photos:

Parking garage steps. ~*TrIpPy*~. Was that necessary?

Plenty of fountains and plants, which I cannot disagree with.

Third floor views. Seven stores are located up here.

Nordstrom nearly fits in. Miami's first one.

Details of center court. If MP dies, you could nearly make it a state park.

Nothing special, but looks good with the rest of the greenery.

Feels like walking on yer Sutthern ma's back porch. But seriously, I like the vibes the mall gives.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aventura Mall, Aventura (Miami), FL

     Located in the heart of Aventura, Florida, Aventura Mall, 17 miles northeast of the downtown Macy's store, Aventura Mall was one of the first "megamalls" of the US. Soon to be the second largest mall in the US, the mall has had quite a history and *slightly* humble beginnings. Truly a "tourist trap", Aventura Mall mixes elegance, practicality, and wealth, forming a massive, upscale "supermall". Now before I sound like the mall website, let's get into the history.

The only way to describe the size and shape of the mall is Shopping Mall Museum site plans.

Wikipedia logos of the original anchors

     Aventura Mall opened up shop with over one million square feet, 154 stores, and four anchors. A 252,000 sq. foot Macy's was the Cincinnati chain's first Florida venue. A large 18-bay food court was at the center of the original mall.  In its early years, the mall was a hotbed of wealth and celebrities. This would propel the center above the large number of nearby shopping centers. The Mall at 163rd Street, Omni Int'l Mall, and then-Midway Mall would be knocked out after Aventura's opening. The man who started the mall, Donald Soffer, broke off from his original employer and created Turnberry Associates, a Miami-based unit who owned and still owns the center.
     Life went on for the center for another ten years before the first major changes. The area surrounding the mall became Aventura, Florida, an incorporated city, in November 1995. DeBartolo Realty, an original minority investor, merged with Simon, and Simon became the minority investor. Shortly afterward, a $90 million dollar renovation was planned and happened. Baltimore's RKTL Associates and ATL's Cooper Carry Associates would double the size of the mall, adding Miami's Burdines chain and Macy's more upscale sister Bloomingdales.

Bloomingdale's Logo.svg
The new anchors of Miami's Aventura Mall. Wikipedia

A year 2000 plan of the megamall. All in gray is new. Shopping Mall Museum
     Other results of the expansion were a 24-screen AMC operation, an expanded L&T, and new parking garages. Opening with it was a 2-story Rainforest CafĂ©, which closed 3 years later, becoming a Zara clothing store. Aventura Mall encompassed 2.1 square feet at the time. Bloomingdales first opened in 1997, with Burdines finally joining the mix in 1999. The expanded L&T became their "Florida Flagship." JCPenney expanded vertically two stories. There was now a grand total of 250 stores. The mall surpassed the 1.3 mil sq. feet Dadeland Mall, becoming Miami-Dade's largest mall. It would be Florida's largest until Sawgrass Mills underwent expansions.
     Lord and Taylor retreated from Florida between 2003 and 2006, only leaving it's Plaza Real store open. Aventura's operation closed in Fall 2003, and would never be replaced, being demolished with a later expansion. Shortly afterward, hometown -and very loved- Burdines was merged with Macy's, forming Burdines-Macy's, then full Macy's. This created a Macy's "double-header", or even a "triple-header", if you count Bloomingdales.
     $44 million dollars were dropped on the mall in 2005-2006, with an expansion and renovation. Nordstrom demolished the vacant L&T, creating a Northwest Wing, with thirty stores and Nordstrom.

Shopping Mall Museum's 2010 view. Gray is new. 

Nordstrom wing with adjacent court. Personal photo.
     Shortly after, the rest of the mall was fitted in with the new wing, in the form of a renovation. The center now contained 2.7 million square feet. The mall wasn't big enough though. In 2014, a new three-story corridor was planned between the existing Penney's and original Macy's. Construction started that year, and will be finished by Winter 2017. When it is dedicated, the mall will hold a whopping three-hundred and forty tenants. Yet that was not enough for the mega center.

TOP : Construction of the new wing.
BOTTOM : Closing Sears with a play area in front. 

    Sears announced the closing of its store in 2017. When I visited, the store was closing in a week. The oft-renovating center announced plans for the vacancy. The store would see the wrecking ball, and become a lifestyle center containing a hotel. These expansions would turn the former one million square foot center into the US's second-largest, with over three million square feet.

A contemporary site plan of the massive center. Shopping Mall Museum
     Today's Aventura Mall has something for everyone. The famous have a Nordstrom, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Unknown - a designer shoe store -, and more, at their disposal. Apple and Microsoft are there for electronics. Sportswear and shoe enthusiasts have Unknown, Champs, Adidas, Nike, Foot Locker, and other shops for their trade. And your traditional person still has Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kay Jewelers, Penney's, and the Federated Triplets for their wardrobe.

     As you view these photos, note the elegance, architecture, shops, and art the mall has to offer.

Donald Baechler's Walking Figure

Penney's court.

Only at Aventura Mall would Lambo's be displayed.

To the right is Jaume Plensa's Florida's Soul. Koi fish are in the pool around the statue.

Reads "Acquired , I play within the scope possible"

The stars that come down from the roof : Jorge Pardo's Untitled.

Directory photos.

Ugo Randinone's Moonrise, East. Two other art pieces are in mall proper, but aren't photographed.