Fashion Plaza a bustle of empty store fronts

PALM SPRINGS — It was another typical winter day in the downtown area — when the city is in its resplendent best — bright sunshine and temperatures in the high 60s and 70s.

The downtown area around the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre, where the Fabulous Follies show was in full wing,” was full of people enjoying downtown.

Four tour buses parked on East Tahquitz Canyon Way disgorged a bevy of visitors. The upper deck parking of the Desert Fashion Plaza was full, and the over flow was using the underground parking garage.

Shoppers rode the escalators up to the Fashion Plaza.

They were in for a shock. Only a few stores remained open for business, and most were offering sell-outs of what remained in their final inventory.

Stores with access only inside the mall had already been told to find a location on the street or close down.

The exodus started two years Nayars ago after voters gave their approval for a casino to be located at the mall. Then, at a foreclosure sale last spring, Phoenix-based A2 Partners submitted the winning bid of $13:5 million to purchase the mall.

Recently AZ fired longtime mall manager Lee Haven. They have been busy with plans to remodel and rename the fashion plaza. AZ has plans to remove the central roof and create an open-air shopping experience, with pedestrian access to the Desert Museum on the west. It would be named The Promenade.

All this require months of planning and building approvals followed by a prolonged period of construction. It could be a nightmare for the remaining occupants, some of whom endured a similar construction period when the DeBartolo Corporation, a Youngstown, Ohio-based developer, re-built the present mall some 10 years ago.

Among the stores to depart were Iris and Neil’s, with second stores in Palm Desert; Ann Taylor, which moved to The Gardens on El Paseo; and La Mariposa and Aristokatz, which owner Diane Matzner reopened in the new Mercado on Palm Canyon Drive.

The departures were preceded in recent years by such major stores as I. Magnin Silverwood’s.

The major holdover and anchor tenant remains Saks Fifth Avenue, bolstered by the real survivor is Ted Land’s, a high-end shoe and accessories store, now offering merchandise at bargain basement prices.

Stores and restaurants along Palm Canyon Drive have been generally unaffected by the changes. However, one restaurant — Trilussa — is suing the former owners because AZ is attempting to slice off rental space to another tenant and refuses to accept a lease assignment by Trilussa.

The city has a keen interest in keeping the mall open for two reasons: (1 ) Itacts as an anchor for downtown businesses and (2 It provides more than 1,000 parking spaces in an area fast being depleted of convenient parking.

Copyright Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum Feb 12, 1999

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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