Developing Feeling

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[caption id="attachment_2427" align="alignnone" width="577"] The Grove’s central plaza maintains a tranquil atmosphere despite hosting crowds of people. Photo by Steven Barston.[/caption]

FOR RICK CARUSO, DEVELOPMENT IS MORE THAN JUST BUILDING—ITS PERSONAL

What Walt Disney was to amusement parks, Rick Caruso is to shopping centers. He’s the man behind L.A.’s highly successful The Grove shopping center, which has successfully transplanted an Italian piazza to the corner of Fairfax and 3rd.

With its hand-picked, imported Italian cobblestones and plaster reminiscent of Versailles, Caruso’s The Grove has created a draw for people of all walks of life. A saunter down the complex’s main avenue on any given Saturday will attest to its popularity and success—hordes of Angelenos make their way out every weekend to enjoy The 

Grove’s bevy of stores, restaurants and its leisurely atmosphere.

Indeed,The Grove is a result of Caruso’s deep-seeded interest in creating intimate experiences, not just shopping malls. “Visiting Europe when I was a young teenager for the first time and seeing the piazzas and the squares and how people live I was taken back. I thought it was fun and fascinating,” says Caruso.“You see people in the streets and they’re alive—you feel like you’re in the right place.”

 

 

And Caruso’s fascination with intimate and personal experiences permeates the finest niches of The Grove’s architecture. The more observant of us may notice a collection of statues frolicking with lemonade in the central square or a number of busts atop nearby Barnes and Noble. These bronze sculptures are more than just decoration; they portray members of Caruso’s own family in jolly compositions that reflect a fun-loving, compassionate side to a man better known for his business than his personal affairs. With new projects in the works—currently under development is Glendale’s 16-acre The Americana at Brand— Caruso finds it important to make sure each of his new projects is better and more creative than the last. “If I just lifted up The Grove and put it in Glendale, to me that would be a failure,” he reveals.

And he remains steadfast in his simple commitment to the art of living. Says Caruso, “The thing that drives me the most is watching people enjoy it—to live what we built every day.” 

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