PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER SHELVES ITS FASHION OF PDC PROJECT

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — The Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood has scrapped Fashion at PDC, its year-old plan to construct wholesale apparel showrooms and lure tenants from the California Mart and New Mart here.
“I am not at all apologetic,” Andrew I. Wolf, president of PDC, said in a phone interview concerning the aborted venture. However, he asserted that since the PDC first announced the plan, the apparel industry has been “realigning itself.”
PDC executives invested more than $500,000 during the year, conducting market studies as well as hiring an architectural firm, contractor and public relations agency to incorporate a contingent of fashion in the two-building complex, which primarily houses home furnishings.
In July the PDC announced that 85 to 90 designers and multiline reps from the California Mart and New Mart had signed nonbinding letters of intent for more than 160,000 square feet of showroom space in its Green Building. San Francisco-based Gensler & Associates and Los Angles-based Peck/Jones were to begin construction in September, and the fashion section was scheduled to open in July 1996.
Wolf claimed the plan never reached the leasing stage because market studies revealed that changes in the apparel industry made it infeasible to start construction. He cited the effect of consolidation at retail and the threat of direct competition from the Internet, which gives buyers and consumers the opportunity to view complete lines. He also pointed to the growth and interest in regional and seasonal trade expos.
“Manufacturers must now offer more services to the retailer, and sales representatives have found that sitting in showrooms does not attract the retail buyer as it did in the past,” he further argued. Wolf contended that going forward with Fashion at PDC would have “been replicating a paradigm that is obsolete.”
However, while Wolf did not mention it, the PDC was confronted by the California Mart’s aggressive campaign to retain its tenants and the implementation of a $14 million facelift and retail buyer programs that brought in more buyers this year.
Maurice (Corky) Newman, president of the California Mart, said he wasn’t surprised that the PDC project was abandoned, and he claimed that his building will remain viable due to the renovation program and its location on the Pacific Rim.
Many reps who signed the nonbinding letters of intent never committed to signing leases. One of those, Robin Piccone, president of Piccone Appin an interview that better business at the California Mart coupled with an improvement on the Mart’s part in listening to tenants and bringing buyers back was a reason to keep her Mart showroom.
“I think [the PDC] finally saw the light,” declared Howard Weiss, president of the Mart’s board of governors and West Coast regional sales manager of Star City Clothing Co., which has a showroom in the Mart. He said independent reps have been replaced by more and more corporate showrooms that belong in the downtown garment industry and in the California Mart.
But the PDC still plans to integrate fashion, according to Wolf. Plans, he said, are under way with the city of West Hollywood to develop an international style and trade pavilion for boutique shows by June. PDC also plans to open Fast Forward, a showcase area for new designers from California and the Pacific Rim. And the PDC plans to host a number of fashion events in 1996, Wolf said.

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