Expect traffic backups in Chino Hills today and throughout the weekend at The Shoppes, which open this morning. (Imagine me in a traffic helicopter, or maybe beating my palms against my chest to sound as if I were in a traffic helicopter.) Peyton Drive is being widened to six lanes but in the meantime it’s squeezed to two or three because of construction. If you go, enter off Grand Avenue or you may regret it.
I had a tour of The Shoppes, which we here at the blog pronounce “Shoppies,” on Thursday morning. Workers swarmed the place, washing windows, sweeping sidewalks, laying tile, painting overhangs and finishing mosaics.
It was sprinkling rain during the tour, which didn’t augur well for an open-air shopping mall. I suspect today’s opening will be a little damp.
As temples of commerce go, The Shoppes isn’t bad. It’s akin to Victoria Gardens, if one-third the size — all outdoors, walkable, chockful o’ chains and, if not exactly a radical design, rather pleasant. Unlike the VG, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not as far as a retro look goes. (Although when the architect told our group solemnly that “we weren’t building a project, we were building a community,” I had to suppress my gag reflex.)
Despite the economy, the center is almost completely leased. Only about half the shops and restaurants will open Friday, though, so if you want to skip the madness this weekend, visit in a week or two and more places will be open.
Here’s the flackage:
“The Shoppes at Chino Hills is a 400,000-square-foot open-air lifestyle center, built by Opus West Corporation … The lifestyle center will be home to more than 60 retail and restaurant merchants. Among the merchants that have already been announced are the first H&M in San Bernardino County, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Trader Joe’s, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Chipotle Mexican Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Yard House Bar & Grill, Pinkberry, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Bath & Body Works.”
One tip: Don’t miss the mural inside P.F. Chang’s. Depicting a rural China scene of centuries ago involving a river, laborers and a cart, it’s six panels long — maybe 20 feet? — and handpainted. Check it out.