Forever 21 closes Riverside Plaza store

2013 - Empty storefront
2013 – Empty storefront

As expected, clothing retailer Forever 21 closed its Riverside Plaza location this past weekend, leaving the Plaza’s largest building vacant.

F21 opened at the Plaza in August 2009 replacing Gottschalks, which closed a month earlier as that chain ceased operations. The building dates back to 1957 when constructed for San Bernardino-based Harris’, which remained in the building as Harris-Gottschalks following a 1998 merger with the Fresno-based Gottschalks chain. (The Harris’ nameplate was eventually dropped from the local Gottschalks stores.)

2013 - Closed store
2013 – Closed store

The Plaza closing was expected following the opening of a similarly-sized F21 in November 2011 six miles away at Riverside’s Galleria at Tyler mall. There, Los Angeles-based F21 took up residence in the previously-vacant Broadway/Macy’s pad, itself having been vacated when Macy’s moved across the mall into the Robinson’s-May spot in late 2006.

No word yet on who or what might replace F21 at Riverside Plaza, but at 204,000 square feet, the 3-story plus basement building is more than large enough for any retailer, including the likes of Ikea (which, despite a population of 4-million, has no stores within Inland Southern California — hint, hint). Other suggestions range from a Dillards (which has only a few stores in California) or a relocated Sears. (We’d prefer a Dillards over Sears if only to ensure the retention of the 1964 Charles Luckman-designed “California-esque” Sears store on Arlington Avenue.)

2013 - Removing merchandise
2013 – Removing merchandise

However, with fewer large retailers left, another possibility for the Plaza building is that several entities could take up residence on one or more of the floors. And of course, so too is demolition, which we would very much NOT like to see.

The F21 vacancy comes on the heels of last year’s closing of Borders Books, which shuttered its Plaza location when that chain went under. However, a recent addition to the Plaza is Mazz Bar & Grill.

With a 16-screen Regal Cinemas, Vons, Trader Joes, CVS, JoS. A. Bank, Chicos, Active Ride Shop, Bloom, Panera Bread, California Pizza Kitchen, El Torito, Chipotle, Ooka, and various other tenants, the Plaza is indeed no slouch (though it could certainly use more clothing outlets). And its location near Riverside’s higher end demographic neighborhoods and UC Riverside bodes well for the center’s overall future. (Are you listening Apple??)

Update (Feb. 1) – Forever 21 signage is now down and according to The Press-Enteprise, the Plaza will undergo upgrades and changes this year as it looks to fill a few spaces. Though the article seems to indicate a large retailer for the former Harris’/Gottschalks/F21 building is not certain, we’re still aiming for an Ikea or Dillard’s. Oh, and we’re also pushing for an Apple Store. (C’mon Apple — get to Riverside soon!)



Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

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