As names are being added almost daily to the list of possible bidders for the sale of the Dodgers, yesterday’s news regarding Joe Torre paired with developer Rick Caruso as potential buyers hit closely to home. Most of Caruso’s retail shopping center developments are distanced close to me, and I have even worked at one (The Promenade at Westlake.) I have shopped at many of the others including The Grove, The Commons at Calabasas, and the Encino Marketplace. There’s even one of Caruso Affiliated’s developments right here in my small town literally down the street from my home, The Village at Moorpark. Now don’t get me wrong, we all need shopping centers where we can buy our dog’s food at the closest Petco or perhaps grab lunch at a nearby chain restaurant like P.F. Chang’s, but there’s something artificial and contrived about these shopping centers, and I certainly wouldn’t want Dodger Stadium to be surrounded by a retail promenade or enveloped within a Mediterranean facade.
I realize that the price tag of our beloved team only allows for those with a net worth in the billions to be considered. Hedge fund managers, real estate developers, .com entrepreneurs, and cable television corporations are vying for the ownership of this historically important and globally loved baseball team. It’s like picking the lesser of the evils at this point, and in reality us fans have no say. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to voice our opinion.
Caruso Affiliated describes its signature “CarusoStyle” which it uses as a way to distinguish its brand within the retail industry. They “focus on people places such as parks, promenades, fountains and plazas integrated with upscale retail.”
The Lakes at Thousand Oaks, or the “fakes” as I mockingly have called it, has been unsuccessful since it opened. Complete with fake lakes stocked with koi fish and upscale shops that not many can afford to shop in, the center has had many vacated stores including Nate n’ Al, Sushi Ko, Polacheck’s Jewelers, Ben & Jerry’s, and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I used to live close to this shopping center, and I can tell you the reason why it doesn’t work is because the stores are too expensive, there are not many worth finding a parking space for, and the atmosphere seems forced and contrived. Is this the style we would see Chavez Ravine transformed into?
There’s certainly draw to shopping centers like these, but why not just hop on the 101 Freeway and drive to The Grove instead of developing the Dodger Stadium area into a retail zone? Caruso talks about his ideas on developing the land around Dodger stadium in this L.A. Times article from 2005. Perhaps Rick Caruso doesn’t plan on changing Dodger Stadium at all to the delight of traditionalists like myself, but I can’t help but shudder when I think of a Italian fountain next to the turnstiles at the ballpark.