Living Faux Real at the Americana at Brand

Living Faux Real at the Americana at Brand

Gregory Han
Jul 3, 2008

We've been to the Americana at Brand just once, and we have to say, once was really enough. For those of you who don't know what the Americana, or it's older precursor The Grove is, it's a theme-park re-imagining of mainstream USA, complete with trolly and courtyard fountain. The Americana has the added feature of lofts and townhouses, providing an opportunity to literally live in a mall. LA Times Home & Garden writer Chris Erskine reports about what it was like calling the Americana home during a short stay...

In fact, this whole enterprise seems trying to root deep, to create a sense of permanence. So it's hard to be too critical of this wager on a more interesting and congenial L.A. lifestyle. It all seems so earnest, so well-intentioned. And certainly, such retail-housing combos are a trend we'll see more of soon, here and across the country.

Of course, some happenstance might be nice -- a real-life street musician, a squirrel or two, a bird. Rooftop community gardens would be a nice add-on at the Americana, as would a swanky little watering hole on the village green.

Mostly, what this instant city needs is a little time. Some people may prefer a perennially shiny new home. Me, I prefer the hum of real life, some patina, that lived-in look -- like creases in a fine old leather chair.

Could we fathom calling an outdoor mall a home? Ummm, no. Neither could we afford a $2000/month apartment in the first place. But we've lived in a huge multi-unit apartment complex in Encino before, and this seems much more pleasant option comparatively, despite the huge crowds and the ever presence of Sinatra crooning (we like the Chairman of the Board, but the Grove and Americana make it almost unbearable). What is bothersome is the obvious artificiality of the experience, whether shopping or living there...the saccharine sheen of a Thomas Kinkade painting come to life. As writer Chris Erskine notes, what's missing are the very joys we find in real neighborhoods throughout LA and across the country: squirrels, birds, experiences and sights not landscaped and preplanned by a developer. Is this the future for housing development? We certainly do not hope so. But we guess for some, it's a dream come true.

[via LA Times: The new Mayberry?]

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