Retail Magnet

Caruso gets all the best retailers

A guest approaches the concierge desk and asks for help finding a gift. The concierge knows the retail selection and can help. If the product is unavailable here, the concierge will, if necessary, send her to another store across town.

That sounds like Nordstrom service.

But this isn't Nordstrom. It is the concierge desk at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif., a mixed-use development from Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated. It's what happens at every center in the Caruso Affiliated portfolio of 2.1 million sq. ft. of retail and residential properties.

In fact, that level of service is one reason why Nordstrom is moving its Glendale Galleria store several hundred yards across the street to The Americana at Brand. "Customers love coming to Caruso centers," said Colin Johnson, a Nordstrom spokesperson. "They create great energy and excitement. It's important to us to work closely with our partners toward a common goal of constantly elevating the customer experience, and Caruso has been very supportive."

Disney Baby: The day after Caruso and Nordstrom announced Nordstrom's move — in March 2011, with a planned opening of September 2013 — Disney called Paul Kurzawa, Caruso's COO. "They wanted to discuss the possibility of bringing the first store for a new brand to The Americana," Kurzawa recalled. "A few months later, Disney opened the first Disney Baby."

Apple, Too: Prominent retailers have called the The Americana regularly since the center opened in 2008. In 2009, Apple called. That seemed unusual because Apple operated a store across the street at the Galleria. While that store remains at the Galleria today, Apple opened the first second-generation Apple store at The Americana in 2010.

Creating a Center Where Retailers Ask for Space: "The Americana at Brand is our latest version of the approach we take with all of our properties," said Kurzawa. "We want retailers relevant to the trade area. We want to provide guests with the best services and amenities. And we want to create a unique overall experience. These are the three main elements that we focus on when planning a center."

The 900,000-sq.-ft. property resembles a classic American town square, circled by an orange trolley period piece. A landscaped, two-acre park with outdoor seating and magnificent fountains beckon guests to the center of the square. The architecture encompasses Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Mediterranean and Classical styles, which constitute the architectural styles of Los Angeles.

Retailers Want Americana's Guests: All Caruso Affiliated shopping centers refer to retailers as customers; they refer to the customers that buy from their retailers as guests.

The Americana at Brand draws guests from more than 60 ZIP codes in surrounding affluent areas, including La Canada, Pasadena, Los Feliz, La Crescenta, Silverlake, Studio City and upstairs.

Yes, upstairs. Atop the retail buildings in the center are The Residences at The Americana at Brand, which boasts 100 luxury condominiums and 238 apartments and an average household income of $300,000.

Twenty percent of The Americana at Brand's guests have annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher.

It all adds up to a center that averages $1,100 per square foot in sales.

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