The Schlock @ Orange

I am not sure The Mills Corporation is prepared or even equipped to manage The Block @ Orange. When they opened the property on the site of the former City Shopping Center, it was to be an “entertainment complex”, and indeed it is: shopping, dining, movies, live music and nightlife. On Friday, Saturday and Sundays the whole place tends to get a bit raucous when the crowds pack the place to the gills. Seems like mission accomplished, right? Sort of.

There are problems: Like a lack of parking, quite a few vacant storefronts, several closed restaurants and, this is a big one, it’s starting to show its age. An outdoor mall, I mean entertainment complex, with that amount of foot traffic is going to decay quickly and The Block’s facades, concrete, signs, lighting and general appearance are in a fairly poor state of disrepair.

Another problem is they’re doing nothing on New Year’s Eve. The whole place closes up shop at 6 PM. Never mind that Lucky Strike, Dave and Busters, Cafe Tu Tu Tango and Alcatraz are hopping every night of the week, they will not be ringing-in 2007. It seems odd that a place that wanted to create an entertainment district, a nightspot if you will, is going to be closed on one of the biggest party and entertainment nights of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying The Block is the end-all and be-all of nightlife in the OC, but it’s not the worst way to spend an evening out.

This all comes back to The Mills. They want to have an “entertainment complex” but they want to run it like a mall, because that’s what they’re good at: running successful malls. In 2008 the Anaheim Garden Walk will finally open – with all the construction delays this sometimes seems about as likely as seeing snow on the hills of hell – and The Block may no longer seem like such a novelty. If The Mills Corporation wants to compete, they’re going to have to make a significant capital investment in upgrading the facilities at The Block, as well as completely rethinking their open/close and special event strategies.

Could all this just be a case of me running afoul of things to do on New Years Eve in Orange County? Maybe, but that doesn’t make my point any less valid does it? I wanted entertainment and The Block failed me. It’s a missed opportunity on their part and cheeky observation on mine. And so, the New Year’s quest continues…

4 Comments so far

  1. Some Guy (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 9:32 pm

    I’m with ya on this one. The “entertainment mall” seems to be a good concept, but DTD and Irvine Spectrum do it better. The Block’s architecture never appealed to me, even when it was new. It has a cold, industrial feel to it. I don’t exactly have high hopes for Garden Walk ever opening though – I’ll believe it when I can actually walk through it.


  2. Mike Randall (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 12:06 am

    There have even been a few shootings in the Block’s parking lot.

    Even the Gameworks closed down.

    I’ve stopped going to the Block, I hang out at the Spectrum or jet into LA and chill-out at the Grove


  3. Michael Doss (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    I like the Block because it’s 5 minutes from my house, and a nice place to walk the baby after dark. That said, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying.

    On the topic of the Specturm, however, they’ve removed a lot of their “Entertainment” and replaced it with shopping – Crazy Horse, Rock Bottom and Sing Sing are all gone. There’s a lot to eat there, but other than movies, not much to do.


  4. Jon (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    Good points all. I too like The Block (as it is five minutes from my home as well), but it does need quite a bit of work indeed. I guess I think The Mills could do a better job, you have to spend money to make money.



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