LOS ANGELES — After almost a year of construction, the building-size advertisements in front of Abercrombie & Fitch’s flagship at The Grove here have finally come down.

The three-story location — an expansion of an 11,622-square-foot Abercrombie — is to open July 15. With roughly 21,000 square feet of selling space, the store is slightly smaller than the company’s first flagship, which launched in November on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. A third Abercrombie & Fitch flagship is under construction in London on a former Jil Sander site.

“The Grove is a world-class location heavily trafficked by tourists,” said Tom Lennox, an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman. “We had space there [since 2002], but really had an opportunity to expand the store and make the in-store experience truly special.”

The store is at the east end of the mall, just off a grassy area with a circular fountain. The original Abercrombie & Fitch unit at The Grove expanded into space on both sides that mall owner Caruso Affiliated had planned to turn into additional office space.

“The store was bursting at the seams and they approached us,” Todd Russell, senior vice president of leasing for Caruso Affiliated, said during a tour of the store. “[Chief executive officer and chairman] Michael Jeffries has a goal and a vision and they’ve spent an enormous amount of money on this.”

When the Fifth Avenue store opened, Jeffries said it would serve as a prototype for international stores, and the Los Angeles flagship mimics its New York counterpart in look and feel.

Wall panels, window louvers and floors in dark, rich wood set an understated stage for a three-story historical-looking mural depicting well-muscled sportsmen in action.

Freestanding glass display cases pepper the store, and a glass staircase embedded with tiny lights winds up its three floors.

Dressing rooms are Spartan but spacious — and plentiful. “One of the challenges I think they noticed in the New York store is that there aren’t enough dressing rooms,” Russell said. “I think they fixed that here.”

Two checkout stations — with a total of 14 cash registers — are on the top two floors.

This story first appeared in the July 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The store joins more than a dozen flagships at The Grove, including J. Crew, Banana Republic, Coach and Anthropologie — a stable Caruso Affiliated has been nurturing since the shopping center opened in 2002.

Abercrombie & Fitch, based in New Albany, Ohio, operates more than 300 stores in the U.S. and Canada, most inside better shopping malls. With this addition, there will be 45 Abercrombie & Fitch stores in California.

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