FALLBROOK SQUARE
Victory Boulevard and Fallbrook Avenue
Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles County's first shopping mall, LAKEWOOD CENTER, was developed by Joseph K. Eichenbaum between 1949 and 1956. His firm, under the auspices of the Metropolitan Development Corporation, began planning for a San Fernando Valley merchandising mecca, tentatively known as PLATT RANCH CENTER, in the late 1950s.

Eventually renamed FALLBROOK SQUARE, the open-air complex was designed by Maxwell Starkman & Associates. It was built on an 80 acre site, located 27.6 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. At the time, the area was considered to be a part of the Canoga Park community, but is now considered to be in the West Hills section.

A groundbreaking was held in October 1963 for a 4 million dollar Sears, which, upon its completion, was reputedly the largest store in the 750-unit chain. It encompassed three buildings; the 2-level, main store structure (with basement, community room and "Snackette"), 43-bay Auto Center and a seasonal merchandise building. In all, the FALLBROOK SQUARE Sears operation encompassed 330,000 square feet.

The first business to open in FALLBROOK SQUARE, the House of Sight & Sound, held its grand opening November 12, 1963. The (10,000 square foot) Moorish Modern-motif store was an early 1960s precursor to today's Best Buy. It carried an assortment of 33 & a third and 45 rpm records, open-reel and 4-track cartridge tapes, color and black and white television sets, stereo systems and organs.

The next stores in the first phase of openings included Sears, Sav-On Drug, Crocker Citizens National Bank and a Market Basket grocery. These welcomed their first shoppers between November 1963 and January 1964. By the end of 1964, there were over forty stores in operation.

The second phase of construction included an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, which held its grand opening September 8, 1965. The (35,000 square foot) store included an 8,000 square foot mezzanine and one hundred person-capacity Luncheonette.

The 35 million dollar -fifty-six store- FALLBROOK SQUARE was completed with the opening of its J.C. Penney, on November 9, 1966. This 3-level (180,000 square foot) location was the epitome of the retailer's "New Generation" Penneys stores. It featured a full line of apparel and accessories, cosmetics, "Penncrest" home appliances and electronics, sporting goods, paint and hardware, furniture and bedding, as well as a freestanding Auto Center.

FALLBROOK SQUARE, the "complete shopping city", was made even more so by the opening of the National General Corporation Fox Fallbrook Theatre. This single-screen venue showed its first feature March 16, 1966.

The primary retail rivals of FALLBROOK SQUARE were TOPANGA PLAZA (1964) {1 mile east, in Los Angeles} and NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER (1971) {4.9 miles northeast, also in Los Angeles}.

J.C. Penney's FALLBROOK location was demoted to an Outlet Store in 1981. In April 1984, an enclosing renovation of the open-air FALLBROOK SQUARE was announced. Construction commenced in November. Des Moines-based General Growth Management (which morphed into General Growth Properties) purchased the complex in September 1985.

The first vestiges of the shopping center's renewal, a 2-level (82,600 square foot) Mervyn's and 1-level (100,300 square foot) Target, opened in October 1985. The 40 dollar mall makeover was dedicated July 15, 1986, with eighty stores beginning business. The name of the complex had been changed to FALLBROOK MALL.

A 14-bay Food Court occupied space inside the mall's Main Entrance. A built-in stage area had been set up in Center Court. The new mall also included a 100-seat Community Room.

The original cinema, which had been converted to a twinplex, and then triplex, closed in 1985. The building was razed and replaced by a Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza. A new multiplex, the General Cinema Corporation Fallbrook VI, was built north of J.C. Penney and showed its first features December 9, 1988.

Regretfully, the mall's 1980s reinvention was not entirely successful. By the early 1990s, it was in a state of decline. Major tenants had bailed out and been replaced by mom & pop-type retailers, such as Susie's Deals and Hello Kitty.

The Northridge Earthquake of January 1994 caused serious damage to the FALLBROOK MALL Sears. It did not re-open, but relocated into a vacated The Broadway store at TOPANGA PLAZA. The FALLBROOK store sat vacant for over a year.

A 2.5 million dollar renovation rebuilt the structure into a vertically-stacked Burlington Coat Factory and Big Kmart. The (100,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory, on the upper level, opened for business September 29, 1995. Its dedication was followed by one for a (139,600 square foot) Big Kmart, which made its debut October 1 of the same year.

The movie theater was expanded with 7 -and then 10- screens, before being shuttered in 1999. It was sold, downsized and re-opened, as the Laemmle Fallbrook 7, on December 7, 2001. On March 1, 2013, the theater was rebranded as the AMC Fallbrook 7.

Meanwhile, the J.C. Penney Outlet Store had been shuttered on April 27, 2001. In August of the same year, a second major overhaul of the FALLBROOK facility was announced. It was to be demalled, returning it -in essence- to the open-air complex it started out as in the mid-'60s. Its name would be changed to FALLBROOK CENTER.

The Kmart-Burlington Coat Factory, Mervyn's, Target, Penney's, Fallbrook 7 and northern store block buildings were retained, along with nine outparcels. The remainder of the mall was bulldozed.

The first new stores, DSW and a relocated Ross Dress for Less, opened their doors October 10, 2002. Kohl's, which occupied 113,700 square feet of the old Penney's, began business March 7, 2003. A 1-level (115,000 square foot) Home Depot was dedicated November 13, 2003.

Other tenants in the new FALLBROOK CENTER power plaza were a (24,000 square foot) Michaels, (16,500 square foot) Petco and (35,000 square foot) Linens 'N Things. On January 28, 2004, Wal-Mart opened in the store space previously occupied by Big Kmart.

Mervyn's, shuttered in early 2009, was temporarily tenanted by a San Diego-based Crown Books Outlet, which occupied the ground floor. On May 22, 2013, a (27,500 square foot), Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market opened. The remainder of the building's ground floor was taken by Ulta Beauty.

San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corporation bought FALLBROOK CENTER from General Growth Properties in June 2014. At the time, the shopping hub encompassed 1,120,000 leasable square feet and housed fifty-two stores and services.

Sources:

Information from Mitch Glaser
Los Angeles County, California tax assessor website
The Los Angeles Times
Comment posts by "Pseudo3D", "Anonymous", "ArtGuyJoe", Michael, Laura, Cory, Darcy, "Pastor Zip" and Ken
www.ggp.com / General Growth Properties
http://www.fallbrookcenter.com