CRYSTAL COURT / SOUTH COAST PLAZA WEST
West Sunflower Avenue and Crystal Court Drive
Costa Mesa, California

By the mid-1980s, Orange County, California's SOUTH COAST PLAZA (1967) was firmly established as one of the preeminent shopping malls in Southern California. Retailers were clamoring to be added to its diamond-studded list of tenants, but there wasn't room for a sizable expansion.

The owner-developers, by then known as C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, entered into a joint venture with Santa Ana-based California Pacific Properties. It was decided to build an annex shopping center on an adjoining, 17.8 acre tract. This was situated northwest of SOUTH COAST PLAZA, 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, in the bedroom community of Costa Mesa ["koh-stuh may-suh"].

At first, the complex-to-be was known as SOUTH COAST PLAZA II (the existing mall had assumed the tentative title of SOUTH COAST PLAZA I). Midway through construction, the annex mall was renamed BEAR STREET COLLECTION. However, just before its official grand opening, it was bequeathed the name CRYSTAL COURT.

The 3-level -100 million dollar- CRYSTAL COURT enveloped 685,000 leasable square feet. It was anchored by two Los Angeles-based department stores; a 3-level (189,000 square foot) The Broadway and 3-level (211,600 square foot) J.W. Robinson's. These were dedicated, with a gala grand opening celebration, October 27, 1986.


Ten inline stores began business at a mall-wide inauguration held October 31, 1986. Trumpeters dressed in Renaissance attire greeted patrons at the Main Entrance and a string quartet, playing Mozart, performed at the Level 3 atrium. Eventually housing seventy stores and services, the annex mall included Alcott & Andrews, Scribner Books, Talbot's, Espirit Kids and See's Candies.

Competing malls in the vicinity of CRYSTAL COURT included FASHION ISLAND (1967) {5 miles southeast, in Newport Beach} and THE MARKET PLACE (a.k.a. "THE TMP") (1988) {5.6 miles northeast, in Tustin}.

The mall received a new name (its fourth) in January 1999. It was known, henceforth, as SOUTH COAST PLAZA WEST. Anchor alterations had commenced with the conversion of J.W. Robinson's, into Robinsons-May, on January 31, 1993. This store was shuttered January 5, 1999.

With the possibility of re-leasing the building to a single tenant unlikely, a plan was devised that would divide its 3-levels into approximately eighteen store spaces. Wheeling, Illinois-based Crate & Barrel Furniture became one of the first stores to open, November 3, 1999. It would be accompanied by Borders Books and Sport Chalet.

The Broadway received a Macy's Clearance Store nameplate July 5, 1996. At this time, Macy's mentioned the possibility of converting the location to a Home Store sometime in the future. This was put in motion when the Clearance Store was shuttered on December 20, 1999. It re-opened, as a Macy's Home store, in August 2000.

Although the SOUTH COAST PLAZA and SOUTH COAST PLAZA WEST malls are often considered a single entity, they are, in fact, two separate shopping centers. A link between the two was established with the completion of the 611 foot -pedestrian only- Bridge of the Gardens, on September 29, 2000. This extended between an outdoor court area accessed from the second level of SOUTH COAST PLAZA over to the third floor of SOUTH COAST PLAZA WEST.

Borders Books, which had opened at the mall in the fall of 1999, was shuttered September 12, 2011. Its 26,000 square foot space was divided between Joe's Jeans and Anthropologie.

Sources:

"South Coast Plaza" article on Wikipedia
The Los Angeles Times

http://www.southcoastplaza.com/
http://www.family-vacation-getaways-at-los-angeles-theme-parks.com/South-Coast-Plaza-Shopping.html (Vicki Funes)


A full article for Orange County's SOUTH COAST PLAZA may be found in the ORANGE COUNTY CA MALLS archive on the MALL HALL OF FAME site.

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