The old Fox Hills mall in Culver City, where I have been many times, was a somewhat sleepy place. Not any more. In time for this past Christmas, the expanded and renamed Westfield Culver City shopping center unveiled itself to huge crowds. The mall appears to be doubled in size, and now includes Target, Best Buy, H&M, Coach, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Manna Korean Barbeque, and a completely redone food court, er, “dining terrace.” And it now has room for key elements of any good shopping mall: a giant Christmas tree, and new cars on display.
I have been to the redone mall twice, once shortly before Christmas and once shortly after (what was I thinking?), and enjoyed the experience. The crowds were considerable, and, while there were few or no spaces on the entire front side parking lot, there were plenty of spaces in the new parking deck at the rear, plus they added an underground parking garage. The expanded interior is bright and airy, reminding me of an airport, with liberal use of steel and glass. That seems fitting, since many airports now contain shopping malls. I also liked the lounge-y furniture and surfaces (faux plywood?) that appear to be the product of some actual design thought. The only minus grades I would give the mall are for the somewhat confusing layout of the escalators and existing walkways, and the narrow (existing) shape of the dining terrace, both of which could result in some bottlenecks.
I know, I know. Some people tell us that shopping malls are evil, chain stores are evil, and we should buy everything from local businesses (presumably that means no iTunes or Amazon shopping either). There are valid considerations behind such concerns, and we should be mindful of larger issues when we decide where and how to spend our consumer dollars. But considering what the Fox Hills mall was, and what it was going to be anyway, I think they did a good job. And speaking of jobs, the expanded Culver City mall must have added hundreds of them, between the construction companies and workers and the people who work at the new establishments there.