NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER
Tampa Avenue and Nordhoff Street
Los Angeles, California

The groundbreaking for Los Angeles County's eighteenth shopping mall took place July 28, 1970. A 2-level, 60 million dollar complex was built on a 72 acre plot, located 25 miles northwest of the center city, in the northwestern environs of the San Fernando Valley.

NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER was implemented in four phases. The first, including a 3-level (175,000 square foot) Bullock's, was dedicated September 17, 1971. A 3-level (181,400 square foot), Los Angeles-based The Broadway began business October 18, 1971.

The third phase mall opening, including a 3-level (220,600 square foot) Sears, was dedicated November 3, 1971. The 4-level (181,600 square foot) J.C. Penney, the largest Penney's in Greater Los Angeles, welcomed its first shoppers on April 12, 1972.

Encompassing one hundred and twenty stores and services and two parking garages, NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER spanned 1,373,000 leasable square feet and was the largest interior mall in Southern California for several years.

Inline stores in the original shopping center included PayLess Drug, Hartfield's, House of Fabrics, Hickory Farms of Ohio and Disc Records. The Lower Mall featured the General Cinema Corporation Northridge Cinemas I-II-III, which showed its first features December 12, 1972.

Retail rivals in and around "The Valley" included BULLOCK'S FASHION SQUARE (SHERMAN OAKS) (1962) {8.5 miles southeast, in Los Angeles}, TOPANGA PLAZA (1964) {4 miles southwest, in Los Angeles} and SHERMAN OAKS GALLERIA (1980) {7.3 miles southeast, in Los Angeles}.

Work got underway on a 20 million dollar expansion of NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER in April 1987. The project entailed the addition of a 3-level (143,300 square foot) J.W. Robinson's and Northwest Wing of Upper Level stores. The new Robinson's was dedicated September 8, 1988.

A 3-level (139,000 square foot) May Company California, and Lower Level Southwest Wing, was completed in late 1989. Two new parking garages were also built; one at the northwest corner of the property (adjacent to Robinson's) and the other at the southwest corner (adjacent to the new May Company).

The May Company and Robinson's stores were rebranded on January 31, 1993. May Company was converted to Robinsons-May South; Robinson's became Robinsons-May North.

NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER had been in the early stages of construction when the Sylmar quake hit, on February 9, 1971. There was damage to structures being built, such as the Bullock's store. However, all compromised construction was soon rebuilt, with work proceeding as planned.

Unfortunately, the Northridge temblor of January 17, 1994 caused severe damage to the mall. The Bullock's and Penney's stores collapsed, The Broadway and Sears suffered significant structural damage and two parking garages were leveled. However, the bulk of the mall proper was left fairly intact.

NORTHRIDGE was closed for well over a year while repairs were made. Bullock's was rebuilt from the ground up and expanded to 200,000 square feet. The Broadway, Penney's and Sears were gutted and reconstructed.

The Broadway became the first of the damaged anchor stores to re-open, on November 4, 1994. Sears returned on November 17. Penney's rededicated their store June 14, 1995. A soft re-opening of the mall proper, with a third of its stores back in business, was held July 17, 1995. Bullock's, the store most devastated by the disaster, resumed business August 10, 1995. Robinsons-May North and Robinson-May South re-opened August 30 of the same year.

During the reconstruction process, the mall was updated with new barrel vaulted skylights, elevators, escalators, marble walls and flooring. In addition, a 15-bay Food Court was installed on the Upper Level.

One of the leveled parking garages was rebuilt. The remains of the second damaged deck, which had been at the northwest corner of the site, were removed. This structure was not replaced. Before the earthquake, the mall had housed two hundred stores. This number was reduced to one hundred and eighty as a result of the rebuilding process.

Anchor store rebrandings at NORTHRIDGE had commenced with the Robinsons-May conversion of January 31, 1993. The next anchor to change was The Broadway, which closed in early 1996. Bullock's was "Macy-ated" in April of the same year.

Robinsons-May North was shuttered when the two stores were consolidated into the South location in 1996. The building had been expanded to 181,600 square feet, taking a portion of land occupied by the southwest parking garage. The consolidated NORTHRIDGE Robinsons-May was rebranded as a Macy's Men's & Home Store September 3, 2007.

Meanwhile, a second expansion of the retail hub had been undertaken in 1997, with the north end of the structure completely reconfigured. The vacant Robinsons-May North was demolished and the empty Broadway building opened to the elements and made part of an Outdoor Promenade.

New stores in this "Entertainment Expansion" included Borders, Cost Plus World Market, Bally's Health Club and On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. The addition was formally dedicated in November 1998.

The focus of the expansion was the Pacific Theatres Northridge Fashion Center All-Stadium 10, which was built on the site of the old Robinson's. The megaplex showed its first features December 18, 1998. With its completion, the gross leasable area of the mall had been increased to 1,512,700 square feet. The retail roster now listed over one hundred and seventy stores and services.

Dallas-based MEPC American Properties had the misfortune of acquiring NORTHRIDGE FASHION CENTER just one month before it was nearly leveled by the 1994 earthquake. After investing over 100 million dollars into its reconstruction and renovation, they sold the mall to Chicago-based General Growth Properties, in June 1998.

An interior and exterior renovation was completed in late 2012. This included new flooring, an updated Food Court and the addition of an amphitheater to the Outdoor Promenade on the north end of the complex.

Sources:

Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
www.ggp.com
www.northridgefashion.com
www.mitchglaser.com
Comment post from "MCHunter78"
Los Angeles County, California tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
www.mortenson.com / Mortenson Construction