Bloomingdale¿s to fill Galleria vacancy

High-end department store Bloomingdale's announced plans Thursday to become an anchor tenant at the Glendale Galleria, moving into the former Mervyn’s site that has sat vacant on Brand Boulevard for years.

It’s a major addition for the mega mall that has struggled to retain its retail dominance against the growing prominence of nearby Americana at Brand, which is poaching Nordstrom after attracting other previously Galleria-only stores such as Apple and Sephora.

Bloomingdale’s, which according to the announcement plans to move into the 120,000-square-foot site at the corner of Broadway and Brand Boulevard by fall 2013, is expected to create 175 jobs and re-energize the fledgling intersection where Borders shuttered a prominent multi-story glass storefront across the street.

In a statement, Mayor Laura Friedman said the renovation would “further strengthen the city of Glendale's retail core.”

Mervyn’s closed all of its stores in 2008 after filing for bankruptcy.

Nordstrom, another Galleria anchor located to the west, is expected to move to the Americana at Brand at about the same time Bloomingdale’s is scheduled to open in October 2013.

Developer Rick Caruso — who recently got City Council approval of plans to expand the Americana to include a new building for Nordstrom — has been critical of the Galleria’s lack of upgrades, but on Thursday, called the Bloomingdale’s announcement “fantastic news.”

“It’s going to be great for the Americana, Brand Boulevard, the Galleria and the whole city,” Caruso said.

He added that he never entered into talks with Bloomingdale’s to fill the soon-to-be vacant Nordstrom building, which he owns.

“We stood down,” Caruso said. “We wanted the Glendale Galleria to make that deal.”

Without a new tenant, the Galleria would have had two major anchor vacancies.

The Glendale location will bring to eight the number of Bloomingdale’s in Southern California, according to Michael Gould, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Much like Bloomingdale’s stores in Soho and Santa Monica, we expect our assortment and shopping experience in Glendale will be carefully edited for the community and customer,” Gould said in a statement.

Company spokesman Jim Sluzewski said the stores in Soho and Santa Monica cater their merchandise to young shoppers who follow contemporary trends. As the Glendale store gets ready to open, Bloomingdale’s representatives will be studying local fashion preferences and stock the store with merchandise tailored to them, Sluzewski said.

The Galleria will also undergo extensive renovations ahead of the opening, said Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties, which owns the Galleria.

The 30-year-old Galleria is known for first-to-market concepts, such as the first Apple and Disney retail stores in the world. But the retail behemoth, constrained by the financial woes of its parent company, has struggled to update its aging property.

Upcoming improvements include remodeled entrances, a renovated food court and new restaurants, said Larry Martin, the Galleria’s new general manager. The project will also include new escalators and a new elevator, renovated restrooms and new flooring that will feature a mix of tile and marble, he said.

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