Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dogs and Cats: The Americana and the Glendale Galleria Make Up

(Pic by Shannon.)

Despite all the bad blood between Glendale's two megamalls, it appears that both sides have finally declared a truce.

According to the Glendale News-Press, the formerly warring mall owners have realized that both of their malls feeds off the other one:

“We have an open line of communication with them,” said Janet LaFevre, senior marketing director for the Galleria, owned by General Growth Properties. “We focus on what is the best thing to drive sales and traffic.”

The Galleria also shares ideas with malls in Century City, Los Angeles and Orange County, she said.

But the Galleria, unlike its other Southern California competitors, did wage a three-year legal battle challenging the Americana for consumer supremacy as the 15.5-acre outdoor mall was planning its unveiling.

Immediately following the Americana’s 2004 City Council approval, General Growth filed suit against Caruso Affiliated Holdings, which runs a string of high-end shopping malls in Southern California, alleging that the Americana’s environmental impact report violated California law.

A judge rejected that claim in a January 2005 decision, paving the way for the project to proceed.

In turn, Americana owner Rick Caruso filed a $40-million antitrust suit against General Growth in 2004, alleging that the Chicago-based real estate investment trust engaged in interference and unfair business practices by trying to strong-arm tenants away from potential deals at the Americana.

General Growth denied the claim but was forced to pay $89 million in damages in November 2007 after a jury found that the real estate company tried to derail a deal between Cheesecake Factory and the Americana.

The issue involved a 43-month delay in which the restaurant balked at signing a lease in the Americana after General Growth threatened to block the restaurant’s inclusion at some of its more than 200 malls nationwide.

But the ill will seemed to evaporate after the Americana opened and the Galleria’s customer count rose.

Meanwhile, the letters to the Glendale News-Press supporting Americana developer Rick Caruso -- who was criticized by many (including us) for the mall's recent inappropriate fireworks display -- have bordered on the ridiculous. Some highlights:

Developer Rick Caruso and the Americana project has been the best thing for Glendale in my memory. Yet, for some reason, he meets opposition at every turn. Not, mind you, from the majority, but from a vocal few.
Rick Caruso, thank you again.

In a time of tough times and loss from fires, we need positive events to keep us going in life.

Why do people have to be negative in a great place like Glendale?
Rick Caruso went to great lengths to make sure that the fireworks were safe and approved by our own Fire Department. I believe he would have been the first person to pull the plug if he thought there was a danger. Surely, he’s the last person who wants to see a fire break out at the Americana, or anywhere in Glendale.
Never in the history of Glendale, or anywhere around us, have the citizens had a free community extravaganza like Rick Caruso put on at the Christmas tree-lighting event celebrating the holidays. Whether you’re a mom, dad with family, teen on a date, 10 years old or 100, Caruso offered, free of charge, entertainment for everyone. Never has Glendale seen such a gathering of its residents in our downtown. Finally, we have a reason to congregate, socialize and enjoy an environment in our own city. And no matter what our council members said in their public meeting, those who attended all thanked and congratulated Caruso for a great evening and show.

Shame on you, Councilman Bob Yousefian. Shame on you, Councilman Ara Najarian. And shame on you, Mayor John Drayman. Have any of you ever taken the time to pick up the phone or pen to represent our citizens and properly thank Caruso for his generosity and his vision and for what he has done for our city?

Caruso has raised the image of Glendale and our downtown, and we surely needed it. Enough is enough.

Apparently Caruso should have considered running for Glendale City Council, rather than L.A. mayor. In this town, apparently the masses believe he walks on water.

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