It’s time to wrap up my Las Vegas series with this relatively unremarkable little bonus, the Las Vegas Outlet Center. Located on South Las Vegas Boulevard a few miles south of the strip, this half million square-foot, fully enclosed outlet center strays a bit outside of the kind of thing we’d usually devote inches to on Labelscar, but it does have a few neato indoor mall features that merit inclusion. I’m probably being a bit of a completist here, but I feel that it’s part of the overall picture.
Since this is an outlet mall, it doesn’t have any real anchors… apart from a VF Factory Outlet (the anchor of outlet malls everywhere!) and a Nike store and some other miscellany. The Las Vegas Outlet Center does host many of the common players at outlet malls everywhere, including Van Heusen and Music For Less and Nautica, many offering items at a dubiously small discount from what they’re sold for at full-priced stores. Like a lot of outlet malls, the decor leaves something to be desired, with exposed girder rooflines and a general lack of true decor. Unlike the pretty-cool Mills Malls, the Las Vegas Outlet Center is pretty cut-rate. The floorplan is almost like two “E”s stacked on top of one another; judging by the different roofing colors from the satellite photo and the fact that the mall is designed as a mirror image of itself, I wouldn’t be surprised if its two halves were constructed at different times. But maybe not.
But, you know what? The Las Vegas Outlet Center has two food courts, and a weird neon rainbow ceiling, and those are both worth something, right? This ends my trek to Nevada: beginning with the next post, we’ll return to the good ol’ chilly, stodgy northeast.
Opened in 1996 in the far-flung southeastern Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, The Galleria at Sunset was constructed to capitalize on the growth spurt of the Las Vegas area, and was an attempt to move more retail out to where people were moving. The area around the mall today is one of the largest retail districts in all of suburban Las Vegas, and serves a relatively affluent corner of the metropolitan area. The mall is owned and managed by Forest City Enterprises.
The Galleria at Sunset is a two-level, “Y” shaped mall with just over a million square feet of floor space, including 110 stores and 5 anchors: JCPenney, Mervyn’s, Dillard’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Robinsons-May (soon to be Macy’s). Unlike its twin mall, Meadows Mall, located on the city’s northwest side, The Galleria at Sunset sports a bright and airy decor complete with pastels and tropical plantlife. Its architectural highlight is a large series of fountains in the center court, which is something of a rarity in newer malls.
Of course, being only ten years old, there isn’t a ton of drama to the Galleria at Sunset either, which makes my job pretty boring. However, if you want more, there’s a good photo set of the Galleria, including a page devoted entirely to the mall’s grand opening ceremony. Enjoy the pictures!
Other than the malls of the strip and the nearby Boulevard Mall, the vast suburban expanse of Las Vegas, Nevada–much of which has been built in the last decade or two–is covered by only two full-line enclosed shopping malls, on the southeast and northwest sides of the city. The Meadows Mall, which is a 900,000 square foot, two level enclosed mall located in the city of Las Vegas itself but which serves the large and sprawling suburb of Summerlin (the largest planned community in America) as well, is the one on the city’s northwest side.
Perhaps because so much of Las Vegas’ first tier shopping is clustered in the center of the city, and because so much of the city is so new that it contains many big box plazas, lifestyle centers, and other newer styles of development, the malls don’t feel as important as they do in many older and more established cities. Meadows Mall is certainly functional, with anchor stores like Macy’s (a former Broadway store), Sears, Dillard’s, and JCPenney, but for the most part it is a functional and unremarkable suburban mall, neither high nor low end but comfortably treading middle ground. The decor inside and out is pretty standard, though I give high marks to the mall’s sign, with its faux-grass scheme.
Apparently, many local residents think even less of it, often referring to it as the “Ghetto Meadow” or “The Ghettos,” possibly because of its relative proximity to downtown Las Vegas. It’s also about to face new competition from the proposed Great Mall of Las Vegas in Centennial Hills, a 1.6 million square foot, hybrid indoor-outdoor mall planned to be built in the northwestern suburbs of Las Vegas.
Judging by my experiences in Las Vegas, they seem to have pretty high standards. While the Meadows Mall may have been the least successful of Las Vegas’ enclosed malls, it wouldn’t be considered as such almost anywhere else. It seems that maybe the pace of change in the valley is determined to swallow this one up before its time.
Labelscar readers know that we’re not afraid to trek off the beaten path, and when people tell me that one seven mile stretch of tar is all there is worth seeing in a city, it only encourages me to venture away even more. This is the first in a string of posts about the malls where Las Vegas area residents actually shop.
The Boulevard Mall is a General Growth Properties mall located approximately 2 miles east of the strip at the corner of Desert Inn Rd. and Maryland Parkway. With approximately 170 stores including four anchors and 1.2 million square feet of floor space, it is the second largest mall in the valley and the oldest continuously operating one (the long-defunct Charleston Plaza Mall was the oldest). Built at what was apparently the “outskirts of town” at the time, the Boulevard Mall is now positioned pretty much in the middle of the city, near the popular tourist regions and much closer to the center-city than many of the area’s other malls, especially the Galleria at Sunset, which is its other competition on the city’s southeast side and is located way out in Henderson.
The Boulevard Mall was my favorite mall in Las Vegas by some measure, both because of its unusual floorplan and unusual decor. Judging by the time capsule (!) located outside of Macy’s store (which was a time capsule in and of itself!), it seems the mall was originally constructed in 1966. Note the cheerful optimism that the mall itself would still be standing in 100 years, which is something that the odds seem to generally be against:
However, judging by the unusual floorplan and differences in decor inside and out, I think only half of the mall dates to the 1960s. My guess is that the Boulevard Mall was originally constructed as a simple “dumbell” style mall in 1966, with a single hallway connecting the Macy’s and Sears buildings, and the JCPenney store halfway along the corridor. I believe that the mall was later almost doubled in size via the corridor built parallel to and behind the original corridor, connecting JCPenney and a new Dillard’s store with an entrance to Macy’s midway. Essentially, this new wing created a mirror image of the old mall, and made it possible to pass through both Macy’s and JCPenney to access one part of the mall from the other. Of course, this is all speculation, but check it out:
I also think it’s worth mentioning the crazy, swooping supports in the front mall and the super-jazzy exterior. I thought this was a really fun mall, and if you know something else about it, please tell us!
Someone else thought to take some pictures too, so check theirs out. I’ll be honest, it would really hurt my feelings, but you just might like them better.
Older, “Front Mall:”
The passageway between the two halves:
Newer, “Rear Mall:”
Dan Savage once famously decided not to answer his regular string of profane letters in his advice column, interrupting them to ramble on about his recent vacation to Las Vegas. I have every intention of doing the same.
OK, no, not really. While the magic of the internet has allowed me to fool you all into thinking I wasn’t away, I actually spent the last week in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, vacationing in America’s city of sin. While my vacations would not normally be topic du jour here at Labelscar, I found more than enough in Las Vegas to bother mentioning to all of you–even those (all?) of you who’ve been before.
“The Strip,” which runs along Las Vegas Boulevard south from downtown Las Vegas for approximately 8 miles, is perhaps America’s greatest suburban retail strip. What’s that–this isn’t suburban, you say? Actually, it is: the core of the strip itself–everything south of Sahara Avenue–is in fact located in the unincorporated town of Paradise, not in Las Vegas at all! And despite that The Strip is known for its over-the-top theme casinos and gambling, it’s also home to no less than five enclosed shopping malls–and that’s not even including some of the smaller collections of shops located in some of the hotel lobbies, or two more enclosed shopping malls currently under construction on the same stretch of road.
Of these malls, most are attached to a theme casino–there is the Shops at Desert Passage, which is part of the Aladdin (and is slated for a major makeover soon, to be turned into the LA-themed “Miracle Mile” when the Aladdin is transformed into the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino), the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (Roman-themed), and the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (Venetian-themed, obviously). On top of that, there’s also The Showcase by MGM Grand and the massive Fashion Show Mall, the largest mall in the Las Vegas metropolitan area and a more “traditional” mall in style and design, anchored by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Robinson’s-May, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s Home, and Dillard’s. The Fashion Show Mall’s dramatic, futuristic facade and sharp break in decor and layout mid-mall–which suggests to me that it was doubled in size at some point, though I have no proof of this–made it into a true find by any stretch.
What’s even better is that the casinos themselves offer the same kind of thrills you can pull from dead mall hunting. Because Las Vegas is a city that seems to almost have a vendetta against history, denizens are quick to implode anything showing even the slightest bit of decay. That means that Las Vegas Boulevard is a surprisingly dynamic stretch of roadway, changing frequently and offering a great many see-them-before-they’re gone sights along the way. Many of the street’s most famous hotels–the original Flamingo, The Hacienda, The Sands, The Boardwalk–are already gone, and more (Stardust is next on the block, and rumors circulate about the aging Tropicana almost constantly. Even the relatively modern Flamingo-where I stayed–is often cited as being an implosion possibility) may not be long for this world. The adventurous traveler may find some real thrills by traveling off strip–and particularly downtown–to see some of the older and shabbier casinos about town. I made a trip to both The Western and The Gold Spike, two of the most notorious joints in town, simply to soak up some color. Surprisingly, neither was as threadbare as some malls I’ve seen, though both had more “characters.” Some other divey casinos, such as the Key Largo and the Bourbon Street, have bit the dust recently. If you go, be sure to visit some of the older casinos downtown, and for a bit of vintage Vegas, you can’t do wrong with a real fan favorite–the Barbary Coast. This small, classic casino is dwarfed by the big boys in its center-strip location, but it’s well-maintained and offers cheaper tables and more vintage flavor, making it a prime stop for the modern commercial architecture enthusiast.
You can read more about the casinos in Las Vegas from CheapoVegas, which is one of my new favorite websites. They review casinos with the kind of sharp pithiniess that I wish I could only muster for malls. Similarly, check out these photos of the strip’s historic casino properties, and swing by Casino Death Watch, a site that tracks news and history surrounding casinos that die or get blown to bits.
Unlike most Vegas tourists, however, I traveled off the strip–and how could I not!?–to check out the rest of the enclosed malls in Las Vegas. There are only four others (and one of these four is an outlet mall) and only one is truly remarkable, but they’ll all be showing up here in the very near future. Without further ado, here are the on-strip malls:
Grand Canal Shoppes (Venetian)
Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace
Shops at Desert Passage (Aladdin)
Fashion Show Mall