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Issue: Issue Summer 2003

L.A.'s Main Street


In the year since its inception, The Grove, Los Angeles’ newest and most innovative outdoor center, has established itself as a community gathering place.

Our community has been enriched with a whole new sense of ‘neighborhood,’ bringing a new focal point to the area, said Park La Brea Apartments spokesperson, Barbara Barsi. “The attractive and appealing mix of shops, restaurants and multiscreen theatre, all situated around welcoming pedestrian walkways, a choreographed fountain and public square, have drawn many of our residents to repeated visits,” she said. An added plus, Barsi noted that new residents coming to the area have indicated the entertainment and shopping appeal of The Grove is an “impetus” to move into Park LaBrea.

The Grove is modeled after architectural styles indigenous to Los Angeles and influenced by classic historic districts of the 1930s and 1940s, with meandering shopping alleys, broad plazas, and intimate courtyards. A large, richly landscaped center park with water features and ample seating serves as a major gathering place. An internal transit system uses electric-powered trolley cars to link the Grove and the Farmers Market.

With its nostalgic, “small town” main street atmosphere and a sophisticated mix of architecture, the 575,000 square foot, $160 million retail and entertainment complex has breathed new life to the adjacent historic Farmers Market as well. While there was a lot of community opposition to anything that might negatively affect the Market, the Grove has actually helped to increase its business by over 200 percent.

“This newly vibrant community is now the center of Los Angeles,” said Farmers Market Director of Marketing and Tourism, Stan Savage. “We are delighted with the phenomenal success of the Grove. This has been a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

An old-fashioned trolley allows visitors to shuttle between the Market and The Grove. “But even though the trolley links the market to the mall, many people love to walk the property,” Savage said. “Clearly, the main street sensibility was a genius decision.”

“The art of strolling has been revitalized by this pedestrian-friendly experience!” Savage added.

The Grove was purposely designed to be compatible with the Farmers Market’s historical value, noted Savage. “The integration between the two has been virtually seamless. There is a sense of flow between the funky old and the stylish new, which people really seem to appreciate,” he said.

“The Park LaBrea neighborhood has really embraced the Grove and are happy for it to be there,” Grove creator and developer Rick Caruso, a Southern California property builder, pointed out.

“When was the last time a family could just go out, feel safe and have that sense of community?” Caruso asked. “When visitors step onto our property, we want them to experience a certain ambiance, that sense of nostalgia like people did decades ago,” he said. “This is an opportunity for people to engage in having a sense of ownership.”

The Grove is a community destination that offers something for everyone, regardless of one’s tastes or interests. The combination of architecture, service level and various amenities are really unparalleled—we truly want people to stay here as long as possible,” he said.

Caruso also designed the Grove’s 14-screen movie theatre, which features curved screens, reclining seats and an always scurrying theatre staff who sport bellhop uniforms and white gloves. “This the highest grossing movie theatre in all of
Los Angeles County
, he enthused.

It’s no wonder the movie theatre has been popular with area residents. “All of the glass chandeliers were imported from
Italy
,” Caruso said proudly. “We really wanted to bring back the elegance and the romance which has been lost in the theatre going experience.”

What has surprised visitors to the Grove are the reasonably priced retail stores and restaurants. “Keeping the prices in line has been done intentionally,” noted Caruso. “We want the shopping here at the Grove to appeal to the widest audience. This is not intended to be another Rodeo Drive
.”

Having ample parking is crucial, and Caruso made sure there was enough for everyone visiting the complex. “Even the parking lot – open so that sunlight can come through it – has more of a comfy feeling, and has been well received by our many repeat guests,” he said. 
 

All the repeat visitors amaze Janine Sadin, director of guest services at the Grove. “People from every age group congregate here. They take great pride in The Grove, making note of any changes or additions. The experience for them is better than any other shopping experience,” she asserted.

“Whether someone wants to go shopping, to go to the movies, a restaurant, or just people watch, we really want people to feel at home and fully enjoy themselves,” Sadin said.