by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
GLENDALE – Americana at Brand, a luxury shopping, dining and entertainment center and residential development opened here on Friday, May 2. The commercial center sits on a prime 25-acre property and gives the downtown area a whole new look and ambiance.
It has attracted an unprecedented number of visitors, increased foot traffic and benefited other establishments arrayed along Brand Boulevard and the adjacent Glendale Galleria, its giant neighbor to the west of it.
The Americana is a project of Caruso Affiliated, which developed The Grove, a similarly-themed commercial and residential center adjacent to Farmer’s Market in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. This welcoming oasis of commerce is dominated by a large circular pond and waterfall that feature dancing fountains spouting plumes of water skyward to the beat of familiar songs from an earlier era. The biggest draw, however, is the two-car trolley that circles the mall. However, the wait to get a seat takes a reported thirty minutes due to the huge influx of visitors since its opening last Friday.
FilAm Gary Novilunio, a surgical technician, his wife Joanne and their 2 daughters, sat on the grass and watched the dancing fountains on Sunday. The girls got drenched watching the dancing fountains when a Tom Jones song, It’s Not Unusual, played and the fountain spewed water over the concrete bank of the pond.
Eduardo Arca, 66, and his younger brother, Rolando, also came to Americana on Sunday because they had to. They worked there. The Arcas are parking directors, and they looked good in their smart brown uniforms. “The parking structure has been full all the time since we opened three days ago,” said Eduardo, a retired employee of the Philippine Department of Agriculture who immigrated to the US in December. He said he met a few Filipino employees at Americana as well.
Glendale Galleria, Americana’s larger and older neighbor to the west, was not to be outdone by the nearby hoopla. Weeks before its plushier neighbor opened, some of its larger tenants, like Macy’s, Apple Computers, Michael Kors, Williams – Sonoma, Bebe, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, Coach, Hugo Boss, MAC and Victoria’s Secret had hung huge banners on the east side of the Galleria, the side that is highly visible from Americana. Not because visitors would miss it. In fact, shoppers and other visitors to the Americana have been observed to head into the larger mall after spending some shopping, promenading and dining time at the new mall.
As you approach this landmark, one would appreciate the architecture of the residential and retail structures; the pastel colors, and the inviting landscape. Rows of palm and maple trees had been planted around the property, a block bounded by Brand Blvd. to the east, Broadway Ave. to the north, Central Ave. to the West and Colorado St. to the south. There are blooming hedges along the sidewalks, and the bright red trolley that circles the property on authentic rails add a touch of nostalgia to the center.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, which moved here from its haunts about a mile away on Glendale Ave., now occupies a Colonial-inspired three-storey brown building that faces the plaza from the Colorado St. end. The new store has more books, a bigger coffee shop, and a balcony that looks out to the plaza three floors below.
The center has an array of retail stores from Anthropologie to XXI that sell everything from women’s apparel to beauty and personal care items to footwear. There are 18 movie theaters and seven restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory and a 50s-style diner called Jewel City that sits in front of a multi-storey H & M clothing store. There is a Jody Maroni’s, a Pinkberry, a Jamba Juice, a Starbucks and more.