The New and Upcoming "Santa Monca Place" is a Dangerous Gamble

With the recession here to stay and no sign of it ending, college students are pinching their pennies ever so tightly this semester.

School fees, textbooks, supplies and for some car payments and gas or rent and food; these things are becoming more important for college students to pay. With news of businesses folding because of this new mentality of buying only the bare essentials, the last thing that is needed is a new shopping mall in a shaky, uncertain retail market.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Monica Place, the mall at the south end of the Third Street Promenade which is currently under complete reconstruction, was initially supposed to re-open this fall, but instead its opening day will be pushed back to somewhere around mid-2010.

The mall first opened in 1980 when indoor shopping centers where all the rage and splurging on neon colored socks and skinny ties were no big deal; even the '80s film, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was filmed in that mall. But that was then, and this is now.

Today, due to increased television-viewing, international news, and the economic recession, young people are much more conscious about what is going on in the world than the kids of the '80s, and it doesn't seem like the new mall open will pull in many young customers: their interest and money will probably be retained for things other than shopping.

I imagine it will be like in those 1950's movies and television shows where diner owners never made money because groups of kids would only buy one milk shake or soda and hang out for hours but never buy anything else.

Besides, what's wrong with retaining just the Third Street Promenade as the main tourist and shopper-attraction? It is a Santa Monica staple, with more than 200 shops and numerous cafes and restaurants to choose from, so why do we need more shops?

It is a wonderful experience to leisurely walk through the promenade's stores, hang out at a cafe and watch the unique talent that usually performs outside, including anything from tango dancers to acrobatic teams.

Santa Monica Place's website says that it will be an outdoor mall as well but it still doesn't beat the third street promenade, being that one-of-a-kind shopping experience that many malls in California try to emulate but always fall short of.

The mall's website also states that it will draw "millions of tourists" but it seems doubtful that tourists will want to go to a shopping mall that looks like any other mall. If a tourist was going to Santa Monica, they would probably saunter through the promenade, possibly not even taking a second glance at the Santa Monica Place and head right for the beach to the famous Santa Monica Pier and breathe in that Santa Monica salty ocean air and enjoy Pacific Park.

If the mall had a unique gimmick of some kind such as Minnesota's biggest mall in the United States Mall of America, then people would go. But with this being a really bad time to start a business in retail, where not only small shops are closing but corporate giants like Circuit City are closing their doors forever, it is a gamble that might not lead to success.
There is no doubt that locals and tourists will go to this mall out of curiosity, and with that curiosity will come many a traffic jam and time spent on parking.

When rush hour comes, do we really want to be stuck for 30 minutes more than we had to just because of this mall that really seems unnecessary in all aspects? They should have converted the Santa Monica Place into a parking facility or a park but it just goes back to being another money-making facility.

No one knows what the status of the economy will be in mid 2010, but if remains the same, the Santa Monica Place will only be for the truly elite who can afford to splurge on vintage skinny ties and $800 pairs of jeans.

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