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 (3 in Harris')|
As Central City Mall: 1972-1991
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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 1970s, 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, and the developers made a new revitalization plan to renovate the mall to attract more people.
As Carousel Mall: 1991 to present
In 1991, they renamed it Carousel Mall and added a large carousel, colorful interior decoration, and brighter façades 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 after 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 I-215/I-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 offices. The County of San Bernardino remains the largest tenant of the mall to this day.
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. Today, Carousel Mall still has no anchors and only a few stores.
Difficulties in returning the mall to its prior state include the further decline of the original San Bernardino downtown area with redevelopment work yielding mixed results, easier development opportunity elsewhere in the city, and legal issues from past redevelopment deals.
There have been efforts in the late 2000s and early 2010s to create positive interest in San Bernardino's downtown region from various agencies and businesses: the reconstruction of the aging I-215 freeway corridor, the reopening of the former CinemaStar facility as a Regal Cinemas Theater, as well as the San Bernardino Express Rapid Transit project completed in 2013 and 2014 have created some interest in the Downtown area, but the surrounding vacancies of business centers and towers around the Carousel Mall remain considerable opposition to a comprehensive revitalization effort.
San Bernardino still has viable business property and open lots in the more suburban/industrial-centric University District in the north, as well as its current business corridor on Hospitality Drive at the southern border of the city that is more accessible to Loma Linda and Redlands residents. In addition, stores present at Inland Center are not interested in occupying additional retail space that's less than two miles away in an economically depressed area. While Inland Center does have an anchor vacancy (most recent being Gottschalks), a new anchor is more likely to build new on an empty lot than to take up aging facilities.
Commercial developers have made offers in the last two decades for various greyfield plans concerning the property, including rehabilitating it, razing it, or a mixed-use plan to build commercial and residential facilities. Most planning has been turned down by the City of San Bernardino, Mission Native Americans, 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. Most recently, City of San Bernardino's bankruptcy proceedings have complicated matters further in addition to the State of California's decision to close Economic Redevelopment Agencies and seize funding from the organizations statewide.
Today, the mall houses more than 300 San Bernardino County employees from different departments. As of 2010, excluding office space, about seventeen retail stores inside the mall were still open for business, including an AM Radio Station and a Jackson Hewitt Tax Center (as of 2012 The Jackson Hewitt Tax Center has closed). The remaining businesses are independently owned, including four operating restaurants. San Bernardino City Unified School District moved its office out of the mall in 2012.
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, which was cancelled and then brought back up. Complications arose when store company Dillard's wanted to lease out the northernmost anchor (where JC Penney once was) and faced difficulty with the planned demolition. Dillard's has plans to cancel the demolition of the structure, but this will likely not ensue.
- Rogers, Robert (2007-11-01). "San Bernardino developing". San Bernardino County Sun. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- El Nasser, Haya. "San Bernardino blues: Bankrupt city flailing amid financial overhaul". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- Ghori, Imran. "SAN BERNARDINO: Judge denies redevelopment fund protection". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- Brown, Josh (2008-01-16). "LA County developers taking on San Bernardino's Carousel Mall". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- Hagen, Ryan (August 23, 2015). "San Bernardino's new downtown transit center: What's in it for you". The San Bernardino Sun. Retrieved 8 March 2016.