One of the earliest enclosed shopping malls in Metropolitan Los Angeles opened in the Orange County suburb of Huntington Beach in 1966. The HUNTINGTON BEACH MALL was built on a 63 acre tract, which was adjacent to an interchange with a newly-opened segment of the San Diego Freeway. The original anchor was The Broadway, which occupied a two-level store at the mall’s center. There was also a second anchor to the west.
Additions to the shopping center were built over the years. In the 1970′s, a department store was added at the end of the east concourse. Then, a new northwest wing was attached in the 1980′s, with a fourth anchor store at its end. However, by the mid-1990′s, the mall was going under. J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward stores closed. The Broadway store followed suit. The mall was virtually vacant, as tenants, and customers, had moved on to newer and more trendy shopping centers in the area, such as WESTMINSTER MALL and SOUTH COAST PLAZA.
In keeping with what is, by now, standard practice in the retail world, an aging, abandoned, enclosure was replaced by an open-air mall, built along the lines of a “lifestyle center”. A 170 million dollar “wrecking ball renovation” at HUNTINGTON BEACH MALL got underway in 2003. Most of the existing structure was razed, with three original department stores, and an outparcel structure to the east, left standing. New retail spaces and restaurants came, along with a 5,000 seat, 20 screen, multiplex cinema. Moreover, a 6-level, 1,500 space, parking garage was built at the north end of the complex.
The new-style shopping center was rechristened BELLA TERRA MALL. Its anchors are Kohl’s, Mervyn’s, Burlington Coat Factory and REI. The grand opening was held in late 2005.