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Downtown LA’s New Open-Air Mall Opening This Week

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Bye, Macy’s fortress

A major revamp of the Downtown Macy’s Plaza, a.k.a fortress, into a hip, open-air mall is nearing completion, with an opening date set for this Thursday.

Now called "The Bloc," because it literally takes up one city block at 7th and Flower, the pedestrian-friendly shopping center ditched its roof, giving shoppers lots of light and fresh air. It now boasts an outdoor courtyard with what looks like a big patch of artificial turf, colorful outdoor furniture, and planters surrounded by restaurants and shops.

However, many of those retailers—including the much-anticipated Alamo Drafthouse cinema —will not open until this summer and fall. Macy’s, which was remodeled and remains the anchor tenant, is open now, as is the Art Deco-y Sheraton Grand Los Angeles, which has a funky, plaza-level restaurant, coffee shop and bar called District on the Bloc.

A corridor will eventually connect to the Seventh Street Metro station.

The Bloc’s $160-million transformation is just one of a handful of expensive reboots turning Los Angeles malls into trendy shopping and food destinations inspired by the success of the Grove.

Natural light and better pedestrian experiences are highlights of the $500 million redo of the Beverly Center, and an outdoor event area and addition of artisan Italian food marketplace Eataly are part of the $800-million remodel of Westfield Century City.

"New mall thinking is manifesting itself all over the city," writes The Hollywood Reporter. "Gone are the indoor promenades and a focus on get-you-in-and-out efficiency. Newly prized is any passable Jane Jacobs-ian nod toward authentic social interaction, which just might keep people hanging out in the consumption nexus longer."