Like, I'm Totally Appalled at Your Non-Mall

by Derrick Garbell

September 19, 2015

The inevitable response to:

West Valley welcomes upscale shopping village, but don't call it a mall

Torrid San Fernando Valley locations may not have spawned the idea of the indoor mall, but they nurtured it with gusto. From Topanga Plaza to the Sherman Oaks Galleria to the Northridge Fashion Center, these sublime everyperson country clubs shared one inevitable feature: a roof to shield visitors from sun and storm.

So I would expect the Valley heat factor to suppress business once this Woodland Hills "lifestyle center" fad subsides.
Imminent El Nino storms will stop shoppers, too.

WTH would anyone in Baja-Calabasas seek out a public "fire-pit" except during the winter-only pre-dawn frost when the lifestyle center and its $6.79/ea cappuccino bars aren't yet even open?

Do the developers of "The Village at Westfield Topanga" really think that once this center's novelty wears off, people are still going to come in droves? Right: they'll just duck into stores to avoid the oppressive heat or rainstorm. Then once in the store, they'd have no choice but to drop hundred$$$. It's a lame, used car-salesman approach, one that underestimates people's preference to replicate most comforts of home in their shopping center experience.

To me, these "lifestyle centers" are just roofless malls.

As in fatally flawed.

As in that nightmare where you're cringing in the town square because you realize you forgot to wear pajama bottoms.

Some of these new-fangled centers may contain more amenities than malls. Like fire-pits and outdoor (instead of the far-better indoor) palm trees and dog-crap turf and bocce courts that merely a tiny weird fragment of society is interested in.

Those added "lifestyle center" features are offered to lure shoppers, but the overhead entailed still has to be paid for somehow by increased profits at the shops and restaurants to cover their increased rental rates. That means higher consumer prices, so the whole model is unsustainable after the novelty honeymoon withers.

So in our lifetime I predict we'll see apocalyptic news of these lifestyle shopping centers being as derelict as Woodland Hills' The Promenade, swarmed by homeless and gangs, and probably homeless-gangs, too!

Then after years of foul degraded vacancies, with the assistance of Mello-Roos bailout funds, these ill-begotten lifestyle wastelands will be drastically renovated with roofs and the DHS at their entrances:

"The Ancient Village at Westfield Topanga now has an overhead-canopy, or as our new family-shoppers have affectionately dubbed it, "a roof" !
Come join your neighbors in a civilized kinfolk-oriented experience where rather than being bewildered Neanderthal dumbass cave jerks unwittingly suffering the elements, you can instead feel the bracing comfort of the recently launched and fully re-invented & restored "Westfield's HVAC Village of Soothing Cool Breezes at Shoup Avenue."

And when the seasons rotate:

"Don't sit outdoors where panhandlers and meth thugs accost you! Enter the Westfield Sanctum of Serenity where the doors manned by Homeland Security scanners will filter out the dreck of your neighborhood.
Rub elbows only with folks sporting credit chips with high limits!
We welcome you to partake in Westfield's Wintry Snuggly Fireplace Pancho Plaza and Let It Embrace You Like a Warm Dr. Phil Hug."

Isn't reinventing a shopping mall into a "lifestyle center" just vapid sales jargon for "repackaging the same old crap and labeling it with hyphenated-slogans"?

(except without a roof)

The outdoor lifestyle center under consideration for the Valley's Porter Ranch area won't be called "Porter Ranch Village."
No, this sublime lifestyle-immersion escape fraud has its deluded planners considering, "The Village at Rinaldi Road."

Why does "at" in front of Rinaldi Road not seem glamorous enough to me to make Rinaldi Road seem enticing?

"At" ? Where have we heard the prominently pompous "At" before?

Answer: When the new owners disposed of the perfectly usable and recognizable "North County Fair" and changed it to the cumbersome "Shoppingtown of Westfield at Escondido North County Fair."

And why stop at "lifestyle center"?

What about "Lively Vortex," "Culture Courtyard," "Protoplasm Villa," and "Existence Matrix"?

"The Existence Matrix at Encinitas invites you to watch your neighbor's leashed labradoodle make a doodoo."

After all these are family-driven, adorable retail-dining hamlets adjacent to yuppie enclaves, but within rollerblade proximity.

This Woodland Hills politician gushing that a merely days-old shopping center has generated a tradition of neighborhood "pride" is hilarious:

"It's a source of pride for us," said L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who lives near enough to bike with his children to the shopping center. "It's pedestrian-friendly, dog-friendly, family-friendly. It's going to create a vitality in the region that we haven't seen before."

To him, "traditions" are as transient as tissue paper. He won't be around when the pretentious place suffers shopper-malaise and rampant-vandalism due to the vulnerabilities of its entirely outdoor-exposure.
(Notice the adroit escalating usage of hyphenated buzz-slogans! That's because real malls also have escalators!)

The country club oasis needs walls supporting roofs to protect its innards!

I say bring back the robust mega-malls!

Let us seek refuge in sanctuaries of battleship-galactica proportions!
In fact, malls with colossal-canon & luminous-lasers on their roofs may be the next wave of architecture as they try to outdo each other with greater faux-armament and dazzling photon regurgitators!
Light shows swirling to the clouds to entice the remotest shoppers to their castle-hives!

And these mega-malls should be vast enough not only to contain ice and roller rinks, but indoor miniature golf and go-cart courses!

When will our county fathers-muthas-parents realize that the only sane regional planning strategy is first to build the local MegaMall.

Only then would cities and neighborhoods be developed on the anchor-malls outskirts!

Now that visionary sequence would be yuppie-clan-friendly!

© 2015 Derrick Garbell

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