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Mall Makeovers

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Original Title:
New Fashion Rage: Mall Makeovers

There’s a hot new look coming out of Los Angeles. Many are betting it will have you feeling you must hit the stores, and hit them a lot.

Sacramento's Downtown Plaza Shopping Center, for instance, is getting a whole new look. “In the retail world ... changing things around is what they do to stay competitive,” said Leslie Fritzsche of the Sacramento Economic Development Department.

The city is working with Westfield, the owner of Downtown Plaza, to open up the mall to the surrounding streets. The idea is to create a village-like ambience - a "lifestyle center" in industry terminology.

Lifestyle centers are not just about shopping, but dining, professional and residential offerings. At Downtown Plaza, one of the immediate changes will be to make the food court face the street instead of the interior of the mall.

Westfield is spending a billion dollars to make similar facelifts to its malls in Southern California, where lifestyle centers and village shopping are all the rage.

Ken Argenio is a recent transplant from Los Angeles. “I think the more flash that you can put into a shopping center with the lights and the music ... people are drawn to that and will shop there,” he said. Argenio was shopping at the new Natomas Marketplace that recreates a main street scenario with open air sidewalks, lantern post streetlights and boardwalk lights strung overhead.

A similar lifestyle center transformation is planned for the former Florin Mall, soon to be called Florin Towne Centre.

Arden Fair Mall is also expanding, but it will keep its conventional mall design. “It's not like all of the malls are just going to be this way.” Fritzche said.

The city wants to maintain some diversity in the shopping experience. Fritzche said the lifestyle center approach is just that, new and unproven.

Diane Bleich of Sacramento, who shops at Downtown Plaza, backs up the city’s concern. Before millions are invested in an open air facelift, Bleich said developers may want to consider one shopper’s point of view. “It can be in Venice, Italy, open air ... or downtown here - open air. It doesn't really matter what it is as long as it has the shop I want to go to,” she said.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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