I have been spending a great deal of time in Downtown Los Angeles this past month. I’m not terribly familiar with the area so I have considered it an opportunity to explore. It has been a wonderful journey into the past. I’ve come across beautiful 1920’s buildings lovingly preserved and some that could use a bit of restoration. I’ve discovered places I want to visit and bars I plan to drink in at some point.
Earlier this week I had a couple of hours to kill before a meeting. On that particular afternoon, I found myself drawn to the well-shaped 7 + Figueroa shopping center. I’d been there once years ago to attend the red carpet opening of the Gold’s Gym on the bottom floor. It was nothing like the bustling place I recalled.
There were many vacant stores. The one major department store, Macy’s, was eerily devoid of merchandise as they liquidated for a closure. The food court was a ghost town. In fact, the only things that seemed to be surviving were the Morton’s Steakhouse and the Gold’s Gym.
I’m not a big fan of malls or shopping centers. I rarely frequent them. But I was oddly disturbed by the experience of walking through the vacant structure. I felt like I was transported into a post apocalyptic film and half expected zombies to come lumbering along.
Given the location of the shopping center, it was perplexing to see it so empty. It’s not a destination spot that requires people to get into a car for a planned trip. It’s dead in the center of towering buildings housing major companies and only a few blocks away from hotels, luxury lofts, condos and apartment complexes. There are thousands of people concentrated in that area on any given day. Just down the street at the newly opened LA Live, a complex full of pricey restaurants and expensive entertainment venues, the place is buzzing with people right around happy hour on through the evening.
I can’t help but wonder if this time period will be the death of the mall as we know it.