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Lively in Laguna Hills

Tomorrow - July 30 - is a big day here in my neighborhood. The opening of the Fresh Market launches the revitalized retail space at the corner of La Paz and Moulton, now known as Nellie Gail Village. But that's not all there is to be excited about. Break of Dawn - one of my very favorite restaurants - has reopened at its new location at 24291 Avenida de Carlota. This move was precipitated by the renovations at Oakbrook Village, converting retail to mixed-use residential and retail. In anticipation of the renovations, a new sushi restaurant and a bakery/cafe opened not long ago in spaces formerly occupied by a silk plant shop and a cookware store.

Adjacent to Oakbrook Village is Laguna Hills Mall, which is preparing for a major transformation. The recent acquisition of the Sears space - store and Auto Center - has sent the new owners' designers back to the drawing board, so renovations have not yet begun. It will be interesting to see how the remodel works around the JC Penney, Macy's, The Limited, Payless Shoes, and other retailers that are still open. I'm anticipating we'll be seeing some very creative solutions as the facelift unfolds.

Laguna Hills Mall was built in 1973, and was renovated in 1994 to include an upstairs food court. Although the mall has struggled, it is still in business. It's in my neighborhood, so I continue to shop there from time-to-time. It seems that in retail, there are some tried-and-true concepts that can't be replaced, but can be refreshed every couple of decades to accommodate changing consumer tastes.

The new venue will be rebranded as Five Lagunas, rather than Laguna Hills Mall. I am of the opinion that "mall" is so outdated 20th century, and here in Laguna Hills, our expectation is for a totally 21st century shopping/dining/entertainment experience!