Monday, December 17, 2007

Commerce in the City of Commerce: Visting The Citadel

We probably make one trip a year to the Citadel outlet shopping center in Commerce (right off the 5), usually around the holiday season... and this Saturday, we decided it was time to make that annual journey.

The Citadel seems to have recovered nicely after losing some of its shine at the end of the 1990s. It's still not nearly as big as other regional factory outlet malls, such as the ones in Camarillo and Cabazon. But it's obviously a helluva lot closer, and since remodeling, has added quite a few more well-known stores (many more with a designer bent too). I remember visiting once in the late 1990s when the choices were rather barren; the Citadel now boasts most of your standard factory outlet fare: Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Old Navy, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, etc.

The other reason to visit: Seeing the unusual, Assyrian palace-inspired architecture up close. Built in 1929 as the Uniroyal Tire plant, the site boasts a 1,700-foot-long wall that features statues of kings and griffins. After the plant shut down in 1978, the site sat empty for a decade. Trammell Crow Co. and Copley Real Estate Advisors eventually spent $118 million to turn the site into an outlet mall... but after things soured in the late 1990s, the City of Commerce took control of the Citadel in 1998. The city sold the outlet mall to Craig Realty Group, which also owns the Cabazon and Carlsbad outlets (and helped launch the Camarillo one) in 2002.

We managed to score a decent parking space (not an easy feat this time of year) and do a fair amount of Christmas shopping. Some sights:

This shoe store had a long line out the door all day long. The sign out front said "all shoes $10." I guess that's a draw for some, but really, how good could those shoes be?

Good luck to KB Toys, as it works hard to reestablish traditional gender household roles.

Yes, this is L.A.: Palm tree meets Christmas tree.

At the Citadel, the live, cheesy rock instrumentals are free.

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