Plenty of shopaholics claim to live at the mall. But when the Americana at Brand opened in Glendale, Calif., in May, shoppers really got a chance to make themselves at home. That's because the $400 million retail complex includes not just Cole Haan, Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters but also 100 condos and 238 apartments--part of real estate's mixed-use trend. Since the Americana's opening, however, the economy has taken a tough turn. TIME's Rebecca Winters Keegan asked Lawrence, V.P. of sales at a company that makes motion-sensor trash cans, about life as an early settler at the mall, in good times and bad.
Why did you want to live at a mall?
California isn't like New York or Chicago. It's all spread out, and it's kind of hard to get to know people here. I wanted a sense of living downtown, in the middle of things. This place actually feels more like a European shopping district.
What's your rent?
It's $2,800 a month, for a one-bedroom with a big patio. It's not cheap, but I'm saving money on gas, 'cause I can get everything I need right here.
How has the economic downturn affected residential life at the mall?
There are still a lot of people looking--I guess because of the novelty of the place. The move-ins slowed down about a month ago.
Is it tempting to spend money every time you come home?
Not any more than if I lived in the suburbs. I go to the movie theater, the restaurants, the Barnes & Noble. It's free to people-watch. If anything, I have to worry about gaining weight from the Cheesecake Factory.
Who are your neighbors?
Families. Couples. We're the first people here, so we're in it together.
Do you have to like Frank Sinatra to live here?
He seems to be playing on the mall speakers all the time. Yup. Him and Michael Bublé. Luckily, the soundproofing in the units is really good.
7 months ago