An artist’s rendering of the soon-to-open expansion of the Irvine 0Spectrum Center on the site formerly occupied by Macy’s. | Courtesy The Irvine Co.

Irvine Spectrum Center to Open $200 Mil Retail Expansion

Morris Newman Retail

The Irvine Company plans an August 18 opening for a $200 million, 137,000-square-foot expansion and renovation at Irvine Spectrum Center, the regional mall at the Irvine Spectrum commercial district. Built on the footprint of the now-demolished Macy’s, the new construction is one of the largest investments that developer Irvine Co. has made on the Irvine-based shopping center since its opening in 1995.

Among the busiest retail centers in Orange County, the Irvine Spectrum Center has 17 million visitors annually, or 1 million more than its nearest rival, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County Register.

The new construction represents one of the largest investments that Irvine Co. has made to the Spectrum Center since its 1995 opening. The soon-to-be opened buildings make use of the former site of Macy’s, which was razed by Irvine Co. in 2016 shortly after the departure of the one-time anchor tenant.

Located on the southeastern edge of the center, the new construction consists of four buildings with space for 30 stores and restaurants. A parking structure with 1,500-plus spaces features improved parking-guidance technology. Among notable new merchants is H&M, the Swedish clothing merchant. The 43,536-square-foot, two-story outlet is the store’s largest outlet west of the Mississippi River, rivaling its New York flagship in size.

A new twist on a familiar retailer is a Hello Kitty store featuring a bar, described as “the brand’s first-ever café with spirits,” according to Irvine Co.

Together, the new retailers and restaurants in the Spectrum “reflect trends both globally and locally,” according to Butch Knerr, president of Irvine Company Retail Properties, speaking to the Register earlier this year.

“We’ve pinpointed retailers that complement our current offerings, bringing energy and individuality to Irvine Spectrum Center, including coveted Orange County brands.”

Among Southern California-based retailers in the Spectrum makeover include Stance, a San Clemente-based maker of designer socks; Robata Wasa, a sushi bar created by the owners of Izakaya Wasa; Perverse Sunglasses, a Los Angeles-based eyewear purveyor; and Gorjana, a Laguna Beach-based jeweler.

Merchants with an international flavor include Falasophy, a food-truck-turned-restaurant selling Lebanese street cuisine; BLKdot Coffee, a Vietnamese cafe; SoHa Living, a Hawaiian merchant of coastal home décor; and SST&C, a menswear shop based in Milan.

Soon-to-open fashion-oriented retailers include Denim Lab, a jeans store with an in-store “fitting lab,” and Concrete Rose, a shoe store. Sephora, the beauty-products chain, is set to open in 2019.

Reflecting the long-standing emphasis on indoor-outdoor design at the Spectrum, about $20 million of the construction budget has been spent on landscaping and outdoor furniture. “Expect rolling paseos dotted with rippling fountains, century-old olive trees and heritage pines [and] alfresco lounges with chic shade canopies for retail respite,” the Irvine Co. said in a January 2018 statement.

Adding to what the company has described as the center’s “family-centric community vibe,” a new play structure was completed this past spring near the recently revamped pop-jet fountain.

The Spectrum Center represents the shopping and entertainment portion of the 5,000-acre Irvine Spectrum office-and-industrial park in south Orange County. Anchored by Nordstrom and Target, Irvine Spectrum Center contains more than 150 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, including the Comedy Club and the 21-screen Edwards Spectrum 21, which includes an IMAX theater.

And like many Southern California landmarks, Irvine Spectrum Center has also made a cameo appearance in a Hollywood production. In this case, the mall was a stand-in for the fictional Mall of Miami in the Disney Channel television series Austin and Ally.

Irvine Company Retail Properties owns and operates 40 shopping centers in coastal region of Southern California including two neighborhood and community centers in Northern California.