The Grove at Farmers Market
The Grove is a retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, California, built, owned, and operated by Rick J. Caruso and his company Caruso Affiliated on parts of the historical Farmers Market.
The complex fills space previously occupied by an orchard and nursery (the last remains of a dairy farm owned by A.F. Gilmore in the latter part of the 19th century). The developers began demolition of an antiques alley and other older buildings on Third Street behind CBS Television City, and broke ground for the new mall in 1999. There was some controversy over potentially increasing traffic in a busy Los Angeles neighborhood that already offered several other shopping venues, including the Beverly Center. The Grove opened in 2002 and has been an extremely popular outdoor mall ever since.
The Warner Bros. tabloid television news program Extra was also taped in the complex, and it was usually on their lawn area.
The history behind the development of the A.F. Gilmore property that eventually became The Grove was not without controversy. In 1984, A.F. Gilmore and neighboring CBS Television City hired Olympia & York California Equities Corp. to look into the possibility of creating a major business and entertainment complex that would have been twice as large as Universal City but would have required the demolition of all existing structures at both Farmers Market and CBS in the process. That plan was not well received by the City of Los Angeles or by its neighbors and the plan was later shelved. Two years later A.F. Gilmore and CBS hired Urban Investment & Development Co. of Chicago to create another development plan.
In 1989, A.F. Gilmore announced that it was going to build a $300 million mall adjacent to the existing Farmers Market and that the new project would be managed by JMB/Urban Development of Chicago. The proposed mall was going to be anchored by May Company California (180,000 sq ft), Nordstrom, and J. W. Robinson's (150,000 sq ft) along with over 100 other stores. Later, the project was scaled down to 2 anchors.
During the next decade, A.F. Gilmore announced in 1998 a further scaled down plan with Caruso Affiliated as the new development partner for a new proposal that eventually became The Grove at Farmers Market, a $100-million project on 25 acres. Nordstrom signed on in 2001 to build a 122,000 sq ft store. By early 2001, toy retailer FAO Schwarz also sign on for 25,000 sq ft. along with Banana Republic, Gap, Barnes & Noble, J. Crew, Maggiano's Italian restaurant and a 14-screen movie complex to be the initial stores in the new project. After many delays, the retail center finally opened in March 2002.
FAO Schwarz was one of the first retail casualties at the Grove when FAO Schwarz's parent company had to declare bankruptcy the following year. The Grove was able to replace the store with American Girl Place, which opened in April 2006.
In the original plan, the 14-screen movie complex was going to be built by Pacific Theatres to be its first Arc Light multiplex. At the last minute, Pacific Theatres pulled out of the project at the last minute and opted to build the multiplex in Hollywood, ArcLight Hollywood, instead. Caruso decided to fund the construction of the multiplex out of their own pockets. After 10 months of successful operations, Caruso decided to sell the multiplex outright. Pacific gave the highest bid at $30 million.
The 575,000-square-foot (53,400 m2) outdoor marketplace is located in Los Angeles' Fairfax District. Initial architectural design was performed in house by David Williams of Caruso Affiliated Holdings and by KMD Architects of San Francisco. Caruso Affiliated claims to have modeled its architectural designs on indigenous Los Angeles buildings, influenced by classic historic districts, with shopping alleys, broad plazas, and intimate courtyards. The design features a series of Art Deco-style false fronts, with boxy interiors similar to those found in other contemporary stores.
The Grove features a large center park with an animated fountain designed by WET. Its music-fountain show plays every hour, though the feature has a non-musical program in between shows. The water's choreography is reminiscent of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas—also designed by WET—but on a much smaller scale.
The property also has a statue, The Spirit of Los Angeles. Live shows are often performed there - on the grassy area by the fountains. An internal transit system uses electric-powered trolley cars to link The Grove and the adjacent Farmers Market.
The Grove is anchored by Nordstrom and has flagship stores for British fashion chain Topshop/Topman, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. Other stores in the center include Michael Kors, two-story GAP and J.Crew locations, Nike, MAC Cosmetics, COACH, Anthropologie, Barneys New York CO-OP, Kiehl's, and American Girl Place.
The Grove's many restaurants include chains like Maggiano's Little Italy and The Cheesecake Factory as well as smaller, local restaurants like Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill, Morels French Steakhouse, The Whisper Lounge, and La Piazza. The Original Farmers Market, located adjacent to The Grove and owned by the A.F. Gilmore Company, features numerous non-chain restaurants that have existed there for sometimes decades.
The main entertainment venue is a 14-screen movie theater complex owned by Pacific Theatres.
During the Christmas shopping season, fake snow is produced periodically during the night. In mid-November, the Grove Christmas Tree goes up. At 110 feet, it is the tallest Christmas tree in the city of Los Angeles.