Eagle Rock Plaza sign

Eagle Rock - Eagle Rock Plaza - the only enclosed shopping mall in Northeast L.A. -- has been sold, with the new owners hinting at potential big changes at one of the city's oldest indoor shopping centers.

Eastern Real Estate and Atlas Capital Group announced last week that they bought the 466,000-square-foot, nearly-half-century-old shopping center, which is currently anchored by Target, Macy’s, Seafood City, and Fitness 19. “Eagle Rock Plaza sits in a prime location within the Los Angeles market, with high visibility, excellent access and strong local demographics,” the firms’ representatives said in a joint statement.

No sale price was mentioned in the statement. However, the property was expected to get around $100 million, when the sale was first announced in late 2019.

• A Mall Full of Memories: Reminiscing about the Eagle Rock Plaza

The two real estate firms have a reputation for remaking aging properties. The new owners didn't say what they have in mind, but the sale announcement included this line: “There is tremendous opportunity to reposition this property in line with today’s evolving retail landscape."

What does "reposition" mean in this case? Well, many other enclosed malls around the country have been turned into outdoor shopping centers or have shrunk the number of stores in favor of more restaurants and entertainment and services.  Others have added housing and other uses.

Eagle Rock Plaza opened with in 1973 with Montgomery Ward and May Co. as anchors

Eagle Rock Plaza opened on Oct. 1, 1973, with 55 stores, anchored by a Montgomery Ward and a May Co. as well as well as a movie theater the Los Angeles Times said. In between the anchor stores were shops and restaurants familiar to the mall shoppers of the era: Waldenbooks, Wherehouse, Chess King, and Contempo Casuals

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“For a while, it did really good business,” Eagle Rock historian Eric Warren told the Times. “This was a brand new thing.”

Unfortunately, four years after opening, the mall became connected to the Hillside Stranglers killings when two of the victims were followed by the murderers after boarding a bus at the mall. (Different accounts say the young girls had been shopping at the plaza before boarding the bus)

Newcomers challenged Eagle Rock Plaza

In the years that followed, the mall also faced competition from new regional malls that followed its lead - including The Glendale Galleria, Burbank Town Center and the Americana at Brand.

These days, the mall has attracted a Target and several retailers that cater to Filipinos. But the structure has become outdated, Warren told the Times – with a two-level parking garage that separates the mall from foot traffic by almost half a block.

Eastern Real Estate and Atlas Capital Group say, however, that the neighborhood of Eagle Rock itself has experienced a growth in new businesses and an influx of families and professionals. 

Both firms have been involved in major transformations of existing properties for new uses. Atlas Capital, for example, is the company behind the Row DTLA in Downtown Los Angeles and has unveiled a $650 million plan to build 16 sound stages on the site of the L.A. Times printing plant on Olympic Boulevard.  

With brick-and-mortar retailers suffering as online shopping has taken off,  many indoor malls have been converted into office space, schools and other uses. New shopping centers are now mostly outdoors and include housing -- such as NoHo West in North Hollywood -- and a limited number of shops.

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Assistant Editor

Barry Lank has worked for newspapers on the East and West Coasts, and earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University. He formerly produced "National Lampoon Presents: The Final Edition." A native of San Gabriel Valley, he now lives in East Hollywood.

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