When you move into a new place, often the best way to get off to the right start is to invite the neighbors to a party. The time-honored tactic worked for Los Angeles-based retail developer Caruso Affiliated Holdings, which invited community leaders along with local officials, media and company staff to the March opening of The Grove, its stylish, 575,000-square-foot shopping center next to L.A.'s landmark Farmers Market.
Burbank, Calif.-based Dick Clark Communications handled production of the gala, which included splashy fireworks, a performance by “people's tenor” Russell Watson, a 40-piece orchestra and the unveiling of a statue of dancing angels — a tribute to Los Angeles. L.A.'s Regency Club catered the dinner for more than 1,800 guests, serving chicken Wellington and white chocolate mousse with raspberries. Premier Party Rents, also of Los Angeles, brought in gold chiavaris to complement tables covered with moss green lamours set with centerpieces of hurricane lamps filled with white flowers. Caruso donated 500 event tickets to the National Institute of Transplantation, which sold the tickets to raise $460,000 for its coffers.
The development had faced opposition from some local activists concerned about increased traffic and new competition for longtime Farmers Market merchants. But since The Grove's opening, “some Farmers Market retailers have seen their business increase by 200 percent,” notes Jennifer Gordon, The Grove's director of marketing and tourism.
Its track record of earlier events for Caruso helped DCC land The Grove gala, according to DCC president Jeff Salmon. The challenging installation required DCC to build a theater for nearly 2,000 guests and then strike it so that eager retailers could open for business the next day. “We had two completely different sets of objectives,” Salmon says. “But we got to do what we set out to do, and with all the class that [CEO] Rick Caruso requires.”
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