Santa Monica Place: 'Nice' but 'Overpriced'

Santa Monica Patch readers weigh in about the mall, which reopened a year ago.

Three days ago, we asked you what you think about , which  this month. Eighteen Santa Monica Patch readers weighed in, expressing a wide range of sentiments.

The general consensus? The mall is "nice" but "overpriced."

(It's not too late to share your thoughts on Santa Monica Place. Please take advantage of the comments box below.)

"Love it," Santa Monica Patch reader wrote. "It has its downsides ... but I am a local resident who never ever went in the old mall because it just seemed gross. ... Yes, [the new mall is] more expensive, but if you want the basic stuff, then there are a multitude of other malls and eating areas nearby to fit the bill. The new SM Place is special and unique, and that's what it's meant to be."

"I think they tried to make it upscale, and they put in a good effort," reader agreed. "I believe everyone likes their own things, so maybe everyone will not like it, but I do."

On the other end of the spectrum was reader , who wrote, "It's awful! I've lived in SaMo for 15 years, and I wish the old mall was still there. So many more choices, more affordable shops, much better food court, and more of a cohesion between the type of shops represented."

Reader seconded that notion. "I liked the old Santa Monica Place better. It was a fun, welcoming place. Also, the food court was much better."

Also in agreement was reader , who wrote that the new mall is "Too expensive! It's geared to European/Asian tourists, not locals. Even the food court is overpriced and lacking in popular choices."

Reader said Santa Monicans who can't afford the mall have other options nearby, as reader Anna also stated. "I think the mall is beautiful. Are some of the stores expensive? Yes. So what? There are lots of people with money in Santa Monica. The promenade offers at least three blocks of affordable alternatives. ... It can't be all things to all people. That's why there are alternatives. I think it's a classy addition to Santa Monica."

Reader expressed similar sentiments. "Oh, Santa Monicans, stop complaining!" she wrote. It is what it is! If it brings in tourists, then that's good for the city. If you find it expensive and not to your taste, go to instead. It offers a little for everyone. Also, there is always Montana Ave. and Main Street, which people tend to forget. Santa Monica has something for everyone. That's what makes it so wonderful!"

"I think that in time, the market will dictate the disappearance of many of the high-end stores from Santa Monica Place, and they will be replaced by stores with more affordable merchandise," reader predicted. "It's nice that there is now a place to eat sitting outdoors with an ocean view on the top floor, which was shamefully lacking in the old mall. But everything else about the new design pretty much sucks—it is awkward, strange and unattractive."

"I believe, in time, shops that we can afford will take the place of these pricey Rodeo drive shops," reader agreed. "I do like and a lot, and I like their sales even more. I just can't shop there these days, you know, with the economy, rent increases and just plain tough times."

Santa Monica Patch blogger also wondered how long the more expensive mall stores can afford to stay in business. Additionally, he wrote, "The entrances and passageways are too narrow and darkish. Lastly, I find that there is no sparkle. It is clean enough, but it has a look of having been open for years. Compare that with the Third Street Promenade, and the , which are sharp and lively."

Reader touched on the potential economic incentives of having a more expensive mall in the city. "Clearly Santa Monica Place is not for locals [at least not ones with my bank account] but as a regional draw to add jobs, commerce and a tax base to help fund the many other worthy civic projects and infrastructure, it is a boost to the local economy."

Reader said he enjoys the mall's location and outdoor appeal, "but I never shop there for two reasons. Traffic is one reason. The city forgot about freeway on- and off-ramps at Fourth Street. Gridlock is frequent. No parking is the other reason I don't shop in Santa Monica, and I live eight blocks away!"

Santa Monica Patch columnist replied to Taibe, saying, "." He added, "I could bike from my house, lock up and get a seat at a restaurant on the top deck in not much more time than it takes to circle a parking garage in a car on busy days."

said he enjoys and The Blue Stove, which is located inside Nordstrom. However, "if you are on the third floor, you go down to the second floor (escalator), then you must walk half way around to the other escalator to go down to the first floor. Bad planning. Good looking mall though."

Reader agreed that the design is poor. "Very disappointing end product. Overpriced shops and maze-like floor plan," he wrote.

Similar sentiments were expressed by reader . "An architectural and merchandise flop!" she wrote.

Reader said the mall's architecture benefits greater Santa Monica.

"Santa Monica Place works if for no other reason that it connects the Third Street Promenade to the pier, completing the harmonious 'walking patch' from Wilshire all the way down to and at Pico," he wrote. "[That was] no doubt a consideration when ."

Reader seemed to best sum up the opinions expressed by all the Santa Monica Patch readers who commented.

"We love the upstairs Dining Deck and use it all the time!" she wrote. "Another plus is the fresh air and the connection to the promenade. My only complaint? The stores are too pricey in the mall. ... Surely there are interesting shops that are original and fun that could exist there? Overall, so glad it is there, but it could be better."

For more on the mall's birthday, check out:


"Happy Birthday, Santa Monica Place: Video"

"Tourists Give Santa Monica Place a Thumbs-Up"


Gary August 17, 2011 at 11:09 PM
I'm with those who think the mall is expensive. As for the person who offered Montana Ave as some kind of alternative, that's kinda silly. Montana Avenue has the second highest square footage price right after Rodeo Drive and the stores there reflect that for the most part. The SM Place restaurants are fairly pretentious and again, way over-priced. Considering how close the other Nordstrom's and the other Bloomingdales are, we should have had something different and better. I know some stores at the SM Place have already gone out of business and I'm sure others will unfortunately follow. Mostly, it's a place to avoid.
Valerie Ferguson August 19, 2011 at 03:38 AM
I agree that SM is a walking city; I walk to and from work everyday. I live on 11th street and work on 4th street. Personally I was not happy with the building of the mall and other over sized buildings that block the view of the ocean (from ground level) and I've lived here since 1968 when the tallest buidling in SM (at that time) was the old General Telephone building that is (still) standing on Wilshire and Ocean avenue (so far).
lahope October 17, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Generally it's an improvement over the Gehry design, but I'm always annoyed when I pull into the electric car chargers with my plug-in Leaf and find several of the spots taken by internal combustion engine vehilces, usually SUVs.


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