Developer Rick Caruso expanded his Glendale retail empire Wednesday with the announcement that he has purchased the Nordstrom site at the Glendale Galleria and will move the high-end retailer to the Americana at Brand in 2013.
Caruso also sent a letter to the chief executive of Galleria owner General Growth Properties, asking to meet about a revamp of Galleria II, the portion of the 200-plus-store mall marred by the long-empty Mervyns site at Brand Boulevard and Broadway.
In the letter, Caruso said Galleria II “has suffered from significant vacancy and lack of foot traffic” and that the two parties “should work together to stop this trend.”
While General Growth Properties does own the Galleria, the anchor stores typically are owned by their tenants, and that was the case with the Nordstrom property.
In an interview, Caruso said he is not interested in acquiring the Galleria, but called the deal a “win-win for everybody involved.”
“I‘d like to be involved to influence the redevelopment,” he said. “I am not seeking to buy it.”
A spokesman for General Growth Properties declined to comment.
Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson said the store will occupy a new building on property Caruso acquired in the last few months that currently includes the Golden Key Hotel and an empty building next door. Nordstrom will be the largest retail tenant in the Americana, where the largest stores now include Barnes & Noble and Forever XXI.
“The trick is going to be what happens in the old Nordstrom space,” commercial real estate agent Greg Astorian said. “If Caruso can pull the rabbit out of the hat there, it’s a win-win situation. If not, it will be basically transferring sales from the Galleria to the Americana.”
The Nordstrom will remain open at the Galleria until the move, Johnson said.
Caruso said he hopes to find a tenant for the space in the Galleria before Nordstrom moves.
“We have a pretty good list of who we are going to talk to about it,” Caruso said. “There are many great retailers, not only around the country, but around the world, who are not represented in the region.”
Caruso also suggested that General Growth consider a complete revamp of the aging Galleria property, including a possible hotel, condominium or office development.
The long, windowless wall around the empty Mervyns space presents “a physical and almost psychological barrier” to activity nearby, he said. “Let’s look at reinventing this whole quadrant.”
Local business leaders hailed the move.
“We’ve had an outdated Nordstrom for many years, and this will attract more shoppers to downtown Glendale,” said Helen McDonagh, president of the Glendale Downtown Merchants Assn.
Caruso said he wants to see Brand Boulevard revitalized from the Ventura (134) Freeway to the Americana.
“I want to see that whole boulevard explode with vibrancy, and I think it is going to happen,” he said.
If anyone can do it, Astorian said, it’s Caruso.
“He has the vision, and the bank account to see the vision through.”