Westfield Plaza Bonita, formerly Shopping Town Plaza Bonita, is a shopping mall in National City, California, owned by the Westfield Group. Its anchor stores are JCPenney, AMC Theaters, Borders, Macy's and Target.

History
The mall opened in 1981 as the first fully-indoor mall in the South Bay Area anchored by JC Penney, Mervyn's, Montgomery Ward, and May Company. The original design include large sky lights, orange and silver ceiling banners, muted browns, wooden fixtures and railings, smooth surface concrete planters with wood benches, musky brown tiles, and lush greens throughout. The mall would be characterized as having an "autumn" tone. Lining the first floor were several full glass-counter kiosks for smaller or seasonal retailers which in time were joined with additional "cart kiosks". The entire complex was celebrated in the center by a two story onyx-glass water fountain where patrons could sit around the water works. At one point it was also the location for the mall's kids club. This original motif stayed with the mall until mid-2002. Before the purchase of the property by Westfield, the mall featured its own individual identity featuring a rather bold all-lower cased sans-serif font as well as a tri-color red and orange rainbow-like logo. While most of the original logos were taken down over time, specifically during the remodel, one prominent remainder of the mall's past is visible to patrons as they enter the property on Plaza Bonita Road, large concrete letters of the namesake mall are still embedded into the roadside. The mall has always featured a variety of local stores as well as other staples of major American malls such as the Foot Locker chain, Hallmark, Express, Hollister Co., and Hot Topic. The mall has also in the past featured such now defunct chains as Waldenbooks, Garden Botanika, and was one of four original locations of the concept Sesame Street General Store. During the 1990s, the mall erected a large marquee sign that was visible from the 805 Freeway. However, local architecture critics were less than pleased, with the San Diego Union-Tribune awarding it its "Onion" Award for its poor choice. However in the years since, the sign was modified with several of the design elements removed apart from the electronic marquee board. Westfield America, Inc., a precursor to The Westfield Group acquired the shopping center in 1994, and renamed it "Westfield Shopping town Plaza Bonita" in 1998, dropping the "Shoppingtown" name in June 2005. In mid-2002, the Westfield America, embarked on a full renovation project to modernize the mall and bring a more youthful attitude to the center. The new look is the Westfield signature look, found in most Westfield malls. The entire center was repainted in lighter colors, glass railings replaced the metal and wood railings, most of the lush plants were removed, new faux-marble floors were installed, and the food court lost its center platform in lieu of a single dining floor. Many criticized the look as generic and sterile, but in turn did bring the mall up to date. The same year, an Outback Steakhouse, opened in an underused portion of the northwest parking lot. It was the second full service restaurant to open at the mall after Applebee's which opened in the mall in 1993. In mid-2006, the former Wards store, which had been the location of seasonal retailers (Halloween costumers and art shows) was stripped and gutted and a new plan was announced to the public that the South end of the mall would be demolished and rebuilt. Westfield Plaza Bonita is underwent a full renovation from 2006 until 2008. In 2006, Mervyn's closed its mall location, in lieu of a standalone location elsewhere in National City. The former Mervyn's location became a temporary outlet for faux-French furniture, with no planned retailers opening in the near future. Numerous new stores and entertainment options were opened, most prominently were Target, AMC Theatres, and Borders bookstore. To accommodate the expected influx of new patrons to the area, a new parking garage, the first in the mall's history, was opened. In addition, numerous new retail stores and outdoor restaurants were opened. The first part of the expansion opened in March 2008, with several other stores opening during the summer including the Target in July 2008, with a final completion date of Fall 2008. However, because of an on-going recession in the United States tied to the housing market crunch in San Diego County, several stores were slow to open and projected numbers were not as high as originally predicted, but the mall operator plans to see brisk business with the Holiday 2008 shopping season.

Movie Theater
The mall had previously had a small movie theater that was removed in 1997, that sat empty for some years before being taken over as an expanded space for the then-retailer Millers Outpost (now Anchor Blue) and a new restaurant Pat & Oscars. However, during the two year renovation in 2006, Westfield announced plans for a movie theater to return to the mall, however much larger and more advanced than the previous. The AMC Plaza Bonita 14 was opened on May 16, 2008 with General Manager Lance Phelps in charge, a 20 year AMC Veteran. AMC Plaza Bonita 14 the second busiest theater in San Diego behind AMC Mission Valley 20. The theater became only the second all-digital theater of its kind in the area (first being AMC Otay Ranch 12) and is equipped with Sony SRX 4K Projectors that have an even higher quality than many traditional high-definition video screen. They theaters contains 14 theaters with 1 being an IMAX Digital theater, 13 theaters equipped with Sony 4K Projectors and 3 of them equipped with RealD 3D technology for 3D films. The theater also boasts many modern conveniences and luxuries that American movie-goers have come to expect in recent years including reclining stadium style seating. It was announced that AMC Plaza Bonita 14 will be opening an IMAX Theater on May 22, 2009 just in time for the release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Cafe Terrace
The original Food Court was shuttered in March 2008 and the new "Cafe Terrace" opened in the expanded area of the mall to much fanfare. Several previous tenants such as Panda Express, Subway, and Hot Dog on a Stick moved to larger locations at 'Cafe Terrace', while other places that called the old "Food Court" home like 'Pho Express', 'Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue', and 'Great Steak and Potato', did not. It is presumed these tenants did not renew their leases or did not find a viable location within the new area. Cafe Terrace also introduced several new eateries to the mall including such national chains as Johnny Rockets, Nestle-Toll House Bakery, and El Torito. To capitalize on the new area, the movie theater was conveniently located at the southeast end of the food court to capture hungry patrons of the cinema. While technically not with "Cafe Terrace", but rather in a larger space directly beneath "Cafe Terrace", the Jollibee Restaurant corporation of the Philippines, operating three of its restaurant Chowking and Red Ribbon concept brands in one location, in conjunction with area's large expatriate population.

Anchors
  • AMC Theatres
  • Borders
  • JCPenney
  • Macy's
  • Target


Previous Anchors
  • Mervyns (1981”“2006)
  • May Department Stores
    • Robinsons-May (1993”“2006)
    • May Company (1981”“1993)
  • Montgomery Ward (1981”“2001)
    • Operated also as Focus by Wards and Wards


Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com