Westfield Horton Plaza

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Horton Plaza
Horton Plaza
Location San Diego, California, USA
Address 324 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101-5481
Opening date August 9, 1985
Developer The Hahn Company
Management Westfield Group
Owner Westfield Group
No. of stores and services 130[1]
No. of anchor tenants 3[1]
Total retail floor area 758,003 sq ft (70,420.8 m2)[1]
No. of floors 5
Parking 2,189[1]
Public transit access Civic Center station
Website Official website

Westfield Horton Plaza, not to be confused with its adjacent namesake Horton Plaza, is a five-level outdoor shopping mall located in downtown San Diego known for its bright colors, architectural tricks, and odd spatial rhythms. It stands on 6.5 city blocks adjacent to the city's historic Gaslamp Quarter and is currently anchored by Macy's and Nordstrom. It was the first successful downtown retail center since the rise of suburban shopping centers decades earlier.[2]



A 1972 proposal for the shopping center and a redevelopment district arose out of plans to "refurbish San Diego's historic town plaza", Horton Plaza. Due to numerous setbacks and resistance from preservation groups, construction did not begin until 1982.[3] The plaza is named for Alonzo Horton, who was largely responsible for the location of downtown San Diego.


View of Horton Plaza
Aerial view from 1,000 feet (300 m), 2011

Horton Plaza was the $140 million centerpiece of a downtown redevelopment project run by The Hahn Company, and is the first example of architect Jon Jerde's so-called "experience architecture".[citation needed] When it opened in August 1985, it was a risky and radical departure from the standard paradigm of mall design. Its mismatched levels, long one-way ramps, sudden dropoffs, dramatic parapets, shadowy colonnades, cul-de-sacs, and brightly painted facades create an architectural experience in dramatic contrast to the conventional wisdom of mall management. Conventional malls are designed to reduce ambient sources of psychological arousal, so the customers' attention is directed towards merchandise. By making the mall an attraction in itself, Jerde stood this model on its head.

Jerde's project was based on Ray Bradbury's essay "The Aesthetics of Lostness". In it he extolled the virtues of getting "safely lost" as adults inspired by side streets of Paris, London, or New York.[4]

Horton Plaza was an instant financial success, with 25 million visitors in the first year. Twenty years after opening, it continues to generate the city's highest sales per unit area, in the range of $600 to $700 per square foot ($6500–$7500/m²). From an urban planning standpoint, Horton Plaza is a civic asset that generates pedestrian traffic and shares it with a number of contiguous destinations, paving the way for the revitalization of the Gaslamp District. According to its web site, the mall has been "hailed locally and nationally as an overwhelming success since its opening in August 1985, winning dozens of awards in design, architecture and urban development."

When originally built, the center was anchored by The Broadway, Mervyn's, Nordstrom, and J. W. Robinson's. It also housed the historic Jessop's Clock, built in 1907, which formerly stood on a sidewalk in front of the Jessop and Sons jewelry store in Downtown San Diego.


The Robinson's was renamed Robinsons-May in early 1993 and closed in June 1994, being subdivided for shopping and entertainment space.

In 1998, Hahn sold the center to Westfield America, Inc., a precursor of The Westfield Group. It was renamed "Westfield Shoppingtown Horton Plaza" shortly afterwards. The unwieldy "Shoppingtown" name was dropped in June 2005.


From April 2005, until November 2005, there were three Gamestops within the mall.
The Mervyn's was closed in 2006.


On January 11, 2011, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a plan to raze the former Robinson's May building on the north side of the mall to make way for a 37,000 square feet (3,400 m2) urban park, effectively enlarging the adjacent Horton Plaza. The building's destruction will displace a Sam Goody (owned by F.y.e.) and an Abercrombie & Fitch.[5]

In 2012 Westfield said it would not renew the lease on the Jessop's Clock and gave its owners (descendants of the clock's builder Joseph Jessop) six months to find a new location for it.[6] However, 18 months later no new location had been identified and the Westfield owners were said to be considering extending the lease.

In February 2013 Westfield eliminated its original system of automatic validation for three hours of free parking, and instituted a policy which required patrons to show proof of a $10 minimum purchase.[7] The changed received much publicity and a negative response from the public resulting in a drop in customers. In September 2013, Westfield reversed the change and returned to its original "honor system" to obtain a parking validation.[8]

Future plans[edit]

Redevelopment of the shopping center includes a central staircase to make the shopping experience easier for first time shoppers. At this point there are said to be no intent structural changes to the mall itself and that Westfield is interested in renewing the lease on Jessop's clock. Management has not responded on whether there will be a facelift to the classic pattern and color scheme of Horton Plaza shopping center. Another San Diego property, Westfield UTC, was remodeled in 2011, abandoning a sloping, vintage look for the flat, boxy style typical of newer suburban strip malls.


  • Macy's (129,505 square feet (12,031.4 m2))
  • Nordstrom (144,495 square feet (13,424.0 m2))

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Westfield Horton Plaza". Westfield Group. Retrieved 2011-02-09. 
  2. ^ Crawford, Richard (1995). "Horton Plaza Redevelopment Project". The Journal of San Diego History (San Diego Historical Society) 41 (3). 
  3. ^ Eddy, Lucinda (Summer 1995). "Visions of Paradise: The Selling of San Diego". The Journal of San Diego History 40 (3). Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Sam Weller, Ray Bradbury Chronicles, p. 292
  5. ^ "Horton Plaza Park Approved By City Council" January 11, 2011
  6. ^ Bell, Diane (June 27, 2012). "Historic Jessop's clock must find a new home". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Peterson, Karla (February 5, 2013). "Horton Plaza dumps free parking". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Poythress, Katherine (September 16, 2013). "Horton returns to old parking plan". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°42′49″N 117°9′45″W / 32.71361°N 117.16250°W / 32.71361; -117.16250