Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Shopping Centers Today, November 2013 | Center Stage: South Coast Collection – SOCO & The OC Mix

Shopping Centers Today, November 2013 | Center Stage: South Coast Collection

From Shopping Centers Today Online, Center Stage: South Coast Collection, Costa Mesa, Calif.


by Ian Ritter

Burnham USA decided that the best way to deal with the failure of a shopping center devoted to furnishings was, well, to reopen it as a shopping center devoted to home furnishings. Thus Burnham USA created South Coast Collection from the heavily vacated, 300,000-square-foot South Coast Home Furnishings Center, which opened in Costa Mesa, Calif., in 2007 but quickly fell victim to the recession. Ironically, the Newport Beach, Calif.–based development firmhad coveted the site for years. It sits in plain view of Orange County’s heavily trafficked Interstate 405 and is just minutes north of the South Coast Plaza mall.

Burnham USA bought the site in 2009 for $39
million, according to published reports. “We needed to come in very quickly and stabilize the property as best we could,” said Byron Ward, a partner of BurnhamUSA subsidiary Burnham-Ward Properties. Much has happened since then. South Coast Collection is now a largely upscale, 50-50 mix of national and regional tenants specializing in home furnishings, and design and culinary offerings, and which caters to both design professionals and consumers.

Design Within Reach, a Stamford, Conn.–based national furnishings chain, chose South Coast Collection for its first model of a 20,000-square-foot, larger prototype that it is rolling out across the country. Pirch, a regional home-decor chain, opened a store at the center.

Burnham USA created a bazaar-like section containing a variety of small, upscale merchants. South Coast Collection is also home to the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, which is run by the estate of Chuck Jones, the animator whose creations include such cartoon favorites as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. The Center for Creativity holds workshops and other events that draw foot traffic. “The person who likes good design also likes fashion and good food,” said Scott Burnham, chairman and CEO of BurnhamUSA. “Orange County has really grown up and now caters to an extremely sophisticated demographic. We feel that it is way underserved.”

Burnham USA modeled the center on the sort of upscale urban retail found in New York City, Chicago and European cities, building redbrick structures with clear-glass windows, polished concrete floors, 20-foot ceilings and halogen lights.

Leasing the project was challenging at first, but Burnham USA targeted specific retailers. Design Within Reach, for one, attended a Burnham USA presentation at ICSC’s RECon meeting last year. “We were kind of poking around in Orange County, but we were at ICSC, and these guys gave a full-press presentation to us, telling us 20 reasons we would be crazy not to open there,” said John McPhee, COO of Design Within Reach. “It worked for them, and it works for us.”

Now South Coast Collection has a fairly happy burden to cope with. The firm is fielding requests from several wannabe tenants. “We don’t have enough space,” Burnhamsaid. “Our biggest problemis [gross leasable area].”

From the November 2013 issue of Shopping Centers Today