By  on February 11, 2011

As a native Angeleno, I’ve long known the seaside mall Santa Monica Place as a shopping afterthought. A black stain on architect Frank Gehry’s otherwise illustrious career, it was a case study for a particular kind of ugly only the Eighties could produce. On top of the subpar aesthetics, its shops seemed tired. So, when it was revamped by owner Macerich at the cost of nearly $300 million and reopened last August, I cheered as a local always on the prowl for better shopping options. As a reporter covering the opening, I spent many an hour poring over the renovations and the new tenants.

In the months following the opening, I hadn’t returned to examine whether the redone Santa Monica Place stood up to the early excitement. This assignment—to assess the cosmetics departments of the Santa Monica Place anchor department stores, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom—gave me an opportunity to discover if beauty shoppers have embraced its offerings and if the mall is delivering on its promise to be a welcoming environment for families and professionals from neighboring office buildings searching for an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants.

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