Westfield Horton Plaza

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Horton Plaza
Horton Plaza
LocationSan Diego, California, USA
Address324 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101-5481
Opening dateAugust 9, 1985; 33 years ago (1985-08-09)
DeveloperThe Hahn Company
ManagementWestfield Corporation
OwnerStockdale Capital Partners
No. of stores and services35[1]
No. of anchor tenants7 (2 open, 5 vacant) [2]
Total retail floor area758,003 sq ft (70,420.8 m2)[1]
No. of floors5
Public transit accessCivic Center station
WebsiteOfficial 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. It was the first successful downtown retail center since the rise of suburban shopping centers decades earlier.[3] The only current anchor store is Macy's. Nordstrom closed in 2016, leaving a vacant anchor store. Other retailers include Forever 21, Claire's, Gymboree, and Victoria's Secret. In August 2018 the property was sold to a developer who plans to convert it into an office-retail complex.



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.[4] The plaza is named for Alonzo Horton, who was largely responsible for the location of downtown San Diego.

1980s - 1990s[edit]

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 drop-offs, 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.[citation needed]

Jerde's project was based on Ray Bradbury's essay "The Aesthetics of Lostness".[5] In it he extolled the virtues of getting "safely lost" as adults inspired by side streets of Paris, London, or New York.[6]

Horton Plaza was an instant financial success and while some credited it for revitalizing downtown San Diego, others said the revitalization benefitted the mall.[3]

When originally built, the center 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.[7]

Weeks after the mall's opening in 1985 a man committed suicide by jumping from a third story walkway in the mall.[8] In what was the first of five suicides to occur over the mall's history.[9]

In 1993, Sam Goody and Planet Hollywood announced would be opening this store in the former J. W. Robinson's site in 1994. In 1995, United Artists Theatres announced would be building 7 new screens into 7 screens to make it 14 in 1996.

In 1998 the owners of the mall sold it to the Westfield Group, now the Westfield Corporation.[10]

2000 - 2017[edit]

Planet Hollywood announced would be closing this location in 2001 and it replaced with Express. In 2005, Mervyn's, and Express, Inc. announced would be closing this location in early 2005. Both were replaced by Steve & Barry's University Sportswear and closed again in 2009.

The Musicland Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2006, and in February announced the closing of 226 Sam Goody and 115 Suncoast Motion Picture Company stores, and all Media Play locations.

On January 11, 2011, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a plan to raze the former Robinsons-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, historic Horton Plaza and Broadway Fountain.[11] Westfield partnered with the city to renovate and restore the area into an urban park and public gathering place called Horton Plaza Park. Westfield agreed to operate the park and schedule events, which could include concerts, movie screenings, and celebrations. Horton Plaza Park will have a 53,000 square foot venue, a Cabrillo Theater, an interactive pop-jet fountain and 23 foot tall color-changing statues.[12] The new Horton Plaza Park had its grand opening on May 4, 2016.[13]

In 2012, FYE announced would be closing this Sam Goody flagship store location. In 2012, Regal Entertainment Group announced would be downsizing this theatre from 14 to 8.

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.[14] However, the heirs had trouble finding an appropriate location, and as of 2016 the clock is still at Westfield Horton Plaza.

In 2013 armed police descended on the mall after receiving a tip that fugitive Christopher Dorner was spotted in the mall. One man was arrested by police, though it later was revealed to be a case of mistaken identity.[15]

June 24, 2016 Nordstrom announces closing of Horton Plaza store on August 26, 2016, Leaving one anchor (Macy's) left in the mall.[2]

On November 22, 2016 a local woman who had previously been reported as suicidal shot herself in the middle of the crowded mall after leading police on a chase. [16]

In July 2017, a shooting occurred at the mall in which an active duty Navy personnel was killed and his cousin wounded after getting into a confrontation with another man.[17][18] Just three days after this incident another man committed suicide by jumping from the plaza's balcony in an unrelated incident.[19]

2018 - present[edit]

In August 2018 the complex was sold to Stockdale Capital Partners, which plans to develop it into an office and retail complex. They propose an "innovation hub" focusing on technology and biotechnology companies, while retaining some retail, food and beverage, and entertainment offerings. They hope to begin construction in 2019 with a completion date of fall 2020.[20]


  1. ^ a b c "Westfield Horton Plaza". Westfield Group. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
  2. ^ a b McVicker, Laura & Bob, Consumer (June 24, 2016). "Horton Plaza Nordstrom Announces Store Closure: The store has been open in downtown San Diego since 1985". KNSD.
  3. ^ a b Crawford, Richard (1995). "Horton Plaza Redevelopment Project". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 41 (3).
  4. ^ Eddy, Lucinda (Summer 1995). "Visions of Paradise: The Selling of San Diego". The Journal of San Diego History. 40 (3). Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  5. ^ Bradbury, Ray (2015-01-29). "The Pomegranate Architect". Paris Review. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  6. ^ Weller, Sam (2006). Ray Bradbury Chronicles. Harper Collins. p. 292. ISBN 9780060545840.
  7. ^ Jessop, Joseph E. (Winter 1987). "The Jessop Street Clock: A San Diego landmark". Journal of San Diego History.
  8. ^ "Man Jumps to Death from Horton Plaza". Los Angeles Times. 1985-11-02. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  9. ^ Rowe, Peter. "Horton Plaza: from remarkable vision to troubled reality". sandiegouniontribune.com. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  10. ^ "TrizecHahn to Sell 20 Shopping Centers to REITs: Horton Plaza, Fox Hills Are Included in Deal". Los Angeles Times. April 7, 1998.
  11. ^ "Horton Plaza Park Approved By City Council". SanDiego.com. January 11, 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-29.
  12. ^ "The History & Future of Horton Plaza in Downtown San Diego". Buy Sell Rent San Diego. 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  13. ^ "4 May Grand Opening for Horton Plaza Park". Fox 5 San Diego. May 4, 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  14. ^ Bell, Diane (June 27, 2012). "Historic Jessop's clock must find a new home". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  15. ^ "Man Cuffed in Horton Plaza Dorner Sighting". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  16. ^ "Woman Dies After Shooting Self at Horton Plaza Mall". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  17. ^ "1 Dead, 1 Wounded in Horton Plaza Homicide: PD". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  18. ^ Hessedal, Brandon Lewis, Kelly. "Man killed in weekend shooting at Horton Plaza identified". Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  19. ^ Repard, Pauline. "Man leaps from Horton Plaza shopping mall". sandiegouniontribune.com. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  20. ^ Huard, Ray (August 26, 2018). "Horton Plaza Sold". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 27 August 2018.

External links[edit]

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