The all-too-happy rendering of the "new" Pike. Picture courtesy of EWB Development
In an entirely silent fashion, EWB Development–the nation’s largest outlet developer–suddenly created a small page that not only renamed the complex (“The Outlets at The Pike”) but touts that the dismal Pike shopping complex will be the new outlet hub for Los Angeles County and Southern California.
While it remains unclear how Vermont-based EWB became attached to the Ohio-based DDR-owned property that is home to 330,000 sq. ft. of retail space, it was quite clear that outlets are the newest attempt to reinvigorate the desolate space. A Restoration Hardware Outlet “Coming Soon” banner was plastered in front of what used to be the Club V2O nightclub–taking up one of 21 available spaces, of which EWB has listed Sperry, Coach, H&M, J. Crew, and a variety of others as coming soon.
The outlet concept is one that is inherently tricky given that most successful outlets lie not within major city centers, but along well-traveled paths on the way to city centers (think Cabazon on the way to Palm Springs or Primm on the way to Las Vegas).
If one tacks this onto the fact that Long Beach’s most successful areas–the Promenade, Belmont Shore, Retro Row, Broadway–are entirely or almost entirely devoid of chain stores, Long Beach faces a problem times deux. In fact, EWB’s Pike brochure lists the fact that there is “no competing national retail in close proximity” as a bonus point to incoming retailers–but one should raise an eyebrow as to why, in a city center full of tens of thousands above-average income folk, such brands haven’t succeeded. And it is most certainly not like they haven’t been here before: we all remember the slow disappearance of national consumer identities along Pine Avenue, two blocks up, with Z Gallerie having been the last remnant of such a presence.
This is not to say the change is being perceived as entirely pejorative or that the plan won’t work. Social media posts of the Restoration sign were met with general applause and at this point, Downtowners and Long Beach in general is begging to see something go in–and if that means outlets, so be it. Even during Grand Prix weekend, the empty halls of the Pike were a depressing sight.
More interestingly is the fact that EWB is not pitching this to Long Beachers–and this isn’t, per se, a necessarily bad thing. Read more…