Carousel Mall Entrance
|Location||San Bernardino, California, USA|
|Address||295 Carousel Mall|
|Opening date||October 11, 1972|
|Owner||M & D Properties|
|No. of stores and services||17|
|No. of floors||2|
This article is about the mall in San Bernardino, CA. For the shopping center in Syracuse, NY formerly named Carousel Center, see Destiny USA
Originally opened on October 11, 1972 as Central City Mall, with two stories, 52 stores, and 3 major anchor stores, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward, and The Harris Company, which has been at its location since 1927 before the mall existed. The idea of the mall was for an urban renewal project for the downtown district of San Bernardino. Central City Mall was to be the first big step in revitalizing the city. It was built adjacent to 3rd Street which was the retail district at that time in San Bernardino. Two years after it opened, the city made a plan that called for a long list of ideas and projects that never happened, including an aerial monorail tramway, a new commerce building, a fourth anchor store for the mall, and a Central City park.
During the late 70's, the mall already started to encounter problems. One of the mall's largest challenges were the local gangs that used the mall as a gathering place. It was also due to lack of organization from the mall changing hands with different management companies as well as city leaders who had a financial interest in the success of the mall. These problems continued into and in the late 1980s, the developers made a new revitalization plan to renovate the mall to attract more people.
In 1991, they renamed it Carousel Mall and added a large carousel, colorful interior decoration, and brighter facades to attract families and younger shoppers. Despite the renovation, the mall started losing business throughout the rest of the 1990s.
The downtown area returned to a declining trend as people decided to shop at Inland Center, which acquired Gottschalks as it moved from the Carousel Mall to Inland Center after merging with The Harris Company, (and Gottschalks was already present as an anchor at Inland Center). Inland Center compared to Carousel Mall succeeded in keeping stores open and filling its vacancies due to its closer proximity to the 215/10 interchange and retention of anchor businesses.
In 2001, Montgomery Ward went out of business and closed, leaving only JC Penney for another year before it was the final anchor to close its doors later in 2003. In response to the Anchor closures, the mall's owners at the time allowed a mixed-use concept to fill vacated retail outlets at its 3rd Street entrance and its western court/lobby with county and commercial offices, which continues to occupy the majority of the property to this day.
Difficulties in returning the mall to its prior state include the further decline of the original San Bernardino downtown area (in favor of its new business corridor on Hospitality Drive at the southern border of the city) as additional closures further vacate in the area, and stores present at Inland Center who are not interested in occupying additional retail space thats less than two miles away. Commercial Developers have made offers in the last two decades which were turned down by the City of San Bernardino, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, various financial institutions and holding corporations; all of whom have a controlling stake in the mall's development from prior years of investment into the property forming an effective stalemate on future changes.
LNR Property Corp purchased the property in February 2006 with the intention of developing a high density residential and commercial project, but nothing has come from the development. Typical greyfield plans haven't come to fruition due to the fact that while landlocked by other cities, there are few stores/contractors willing to invest in development when regional malls have better foot traffic, and San Bernardino still has viable business property and open lots in the more suburban University District at the north.
Today, the mall houses more than 300 San Bernardino County employees and 150 from the San Bernardino Unified School District. As of 2010, excluding office space, about 17 retail stores inside the mall were still open for business, including an AM Radio Station and a Jackson Hewitt Tax Center. The remaining businesses are independently owned, including four operating restaurants.
In January 2008, LNR Corp sold the Carousel Mall property. The adjoining movie theater, CinemaStar, also closed its doors in 2008, further reducing foot traffic to the property. M & D Properties, based out of Lynwood, California, bought the property from LNR Corp. for $23.5 million. There are currently no plans filed with officials to change or improve Carousel Mall regarding M & D Properties at this time, which were contrary to the City's plans for the eventual demolition and reallocation of the land after the housing bubble crashed in the last recession.
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