South Coast Plaza is an upscale-luxury goods shopping mall in Costa Mesa, California in Orange County. The largest mall on the West Coast of the United States, its sales of over $1.5 billion annually are the highest in the United States. Its 250 retailers represent the highest concentration of design fashion retail in the U.S, with the second highest sales-volume in California at $800 per square foot ($8,600/m2)—second only to Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose-Santa Clara, at $809 per square foot ($8,710/m2). The national average is $411 per square foot ($4,420/m2). The mall is anchored by Macy's, Sears, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
In March 1967, members of the Segerstrom family, most notably, Harold (Hal) T. Segerstrom, Jr. and cousin, Henry Segerstrom opened a shopping center called "South Coast Plaza" in one of the family's lima bean fields in rapidly growing Orange County. Originally anchored by a May Company that had opened in late 1966 and Sears, the initial phase of the center was designed by Victor Gruen. It was built the same year as The Irvine Company's neighboring Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
The success of the center brought rapid expansion: an additional wing with Bullock's in 1973, I. Magnin in 1977, Nordstrom in 1978, and Saks Fifth Avenue in 1979. The opening of the Nordstrom store is considered a seminal event as it was the first Nordstrom store outside of the Pacific Northwest and marked the West Coast and later the nationwide expansion of its chain.
In 1986, the center began opening its largest expansion, with Nordstrom replacing its store with a new location twice the size of the original in May, and the addition of a free-standing wing across Bear Street, identified as "Crystal Court" and anchored by The Broadway and J. W. Robinson's, which opened in the Fall. These two stores were anchors at nearby Fashion Island, but were willing to cannibalize sales at that location due to the strong drawing power of South Coast Plaza. This signified South Coast Plaza's elevation from regional shopping center to national shopping destination. The expansion continued in fall 1987 with an enlargement of Bullock's and the redevelopment of the former Nordstrom as additional center space, including a Tiffany's that opened in fall 1988. The Crystal Court standalone wing never performed as well as the original center, its separation due both to land restrictions and the fact that May Co. and The Broadway routinely refused to allow each other to build stores at their existing centers — which explains the proximity of so many competing malls throughout Southern California.
In 1991, the I. Magnin location was closed by I. Magnin's new owner, Federated Department Stores and reopened as the first standalone Bullock's Men's store, also owned by Federated. May Co. and Robinson's merged in 1993 to form Robinsons-May, retaining both locations as separate full-line stores, while the two Bullock's locations and Broadway store were all renamed Macy's in early 1996, with again like Robinson-May, separate stores being maintained on either side of Bear Street. In 1995, prior to the Federated Department Stores/Broadway Stores merger, Bloomingdale's was in negotiations to build a location at South Coast Plaza, but other anchor tenants would not give permission for its construction. When Federated merged all the stores into its Macy's West division in 1999, it opted to not convert Broadway's Crystal Court location to Bloomingdale's.
Another $100,000,000 renovation and reconfiguring of the center came in 2000, with Robinsons-May closing its Crystal Court location and expanding the original May Co. store. The separate Crystal Court name was dropped and the free-standing wing, now called the west wing, was joined to the original center by a 600-foot (180 m)-long pedestrian bridge across Bear Street. The west side was reoriented toward home furnishings, anchored by the former Broadway store, which was refurbished as Macy's Home and Furniture. The former J. W. Robinson's store was redeveloped as center space at the time, housing primarily Crate & Barrel, Borders Books and Music, and Sport Chalet.
In March 2006, the Robinsons-May store, historically the first store at South Coast Plaza as the May Company, was closed as part of its merger with Macy's and re-opened as Bloomingdale's in May 2007.
South Coast Plaza is still privately held by the Segerstrom family (and the second largest family-owned center in the United States behind the Mall of America), and so is one of the few shopping centers in the United States that have not been purchased by a Real estate investment trust/REIT.
Sandra (Sandy) Segerstrom Daniels a Managing Partner of C. J. Segerstrom & Sons, founded the Festival of Children Foundation in 2002. The foundation hosts the annual Festival of Children at South Coast Plaza each September.
Festival of Children coincides with the foundation's efforts to recognize September as National Child Awareness Month.
South Coast Plaza has always had a strong design element in its building. One of the most striking additions to the mall was the angular 1973 Bullock's wing designed by Welton Becket and the 1977 I. Magnin wing designed by Frank Gehry. In 1982, Henry Segerstrom commissioned the sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, to design a small plaza at one end of the South-Coast facility. The result, "California Scenario" was an international prizewinner and is enjoyed by visitors and workers from the surrounding office buildings alike. The 1986–1987 expansion introduced postmodern architecture to the mall with a recurring pyramid motif. Chandeliers took the shape of inverted pyramids, and the escalator atrium leading to the center's third floor is loosely modeled after the Grand Gallery of the Pyramid of Khufu. The original Mid-Century modern exteriors of Sears and May Company were redesigned shortly thereafter. In 2000, the pedestrian bridge, known as Bridge of Gardens, and accompanying Garden Terrace were completed by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson. There are also carousels placed in wide rest areas.
In 2006, Anton Segerstrom decided that the center was well overdue for a remodeling. Construction began in summer 2006 on a $30 million remodeling project to update the center. South Coast Plaza underwent an intense makeover, with Italian ivory marble replacing the original burgundy tile floors, and travertine to surround new water and fountain features. Modern and contemporary oil-rubbed bronze replaced the dated brass side railings and all door/elevator hardware. Construction began in the Bloomingdale's wing, and was completed in time for the 40th anniversary of South Coast Plaza, in the Fall of 2007, just one year later. This is the largest remodel for the center since the construction of the Bridge of Gardens connecting the main building with the Crystal Court in 1999, and the exterior/interior remodel of the West building.
South Coast Plaza continuously brings in approximately 24 million visitors annually. The shopping center has about 2.8 million square feet (260 thousand square meters) of gross leasable area and over 250 stores, making it one of the largest shopping centers in the United States. Its stores generate revenue of nearly 1.5 billion dollars per year, making it the highest grossing center in the United States.
In 2004, South Coast Plaza received the Federal Trademark as "The Ultimate Shopping Resort".
Many ultra-luxury brands, which have very few boutiques nationwide, have chosen South Coast Plaza as one of their few (and for some brands, their only) store locations. Zara made its debut in the California market opening their first California store in South Coast Plaza in 2004. In 2005, French luxury design house Chloé opted to open their second United States boutique at South Coast Plaza. As of Fall 2008, this is still the only southern California location, with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills notably absent. Watch Manufacturer Rolex opened their flagship U.S. location at South Coast Plaza. Purveyor of modern furniture Room & Board also opened a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) showroom in 2002.
Many larger luxury brand stores gather here as well, with some, such as Harry Winston, Tiffany's, Cartier, Calypso Christiane Celle, Montblanc, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Prada, Dior, Valentino, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Hermès, Christian Louboutin and Nordstrom reporting their location at South Coast as having the highest sales in the United States.
The shopping center also features restaurants such as Lawry's Carvery and Vie De France as opposed to a food court. Additionally, features such as valet parking, concierge services, access lounge and even courtesy umbrellas or hot beverage service continue to highlight the upscale nature of the mall. Din Tai Fung, an award-winning Taiwanese restaurant specializing in Xiaolongbao, opened in 2014. The mall is deliberately targeting rich Chinese tourists.
Since 2007, South Coast Plaza has held "Fashion Plates", an annual 10-day Restaurant Week-like promotion of its high-end restaurants at discounted rates.
The center's collection of boutiques and department stores has made it one of the most alluded-to center's in the world. Characters in The OC, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, Clueless, and Beverly Hills, 90210 all mention this particular shopping center as a center of teenage life.
The center is adjacent to Interstate 405 in an area called South Coast Metro, which includes portions of the cities of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Metro Pointe, an outdoor mall and office complex, is located across the street from South Coast Plaza, as are several high-rise office buildings, hotels, and restaurants, as well as the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.Bloomingdale's – 245,000 sq ft (22,800 m2)
Macy's – 280,000 sq ft (26,000 m2)
Macy's Home and Furniture Store – 189,000 sq ft (17,600 m2)
Macy's Men Store – 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m2)
Nordstrom – 237,500 sq ft (22,060 m2)
Saks Fifth Avenue – 103,605 sq ft (9,625.2 m2)
Sears – 377,000 sq ft (35,000 m2)