The Irvine Spectrum Center, one of the most popular malls in Southern California, has gotten even better after a $200 million renovation.

The Irvine Spectrum Center, one of the most popular malls in Southern California, has gotten even better after a $200 million renovation.

Visitors are welcomed by new landscaping throughout the center, with new lawns, trees, furniture and cool mist rising from the ground, as well as the first wave of new shops at the former Macy’s site.

“There’s no secret that the customer clearly thinks of Irvine Spectrum Center as Downtown Orange County,” said Blake Windal, the center’s general manager. “It’s woven into the fabric of the community, and people come here for every aspect of their lives — for shopping, going on dates or married nights out.”

Apple opened a larger location at the Spectrum. The sleek design features two glass walls and a lower level.

One of the highlights of the renovation is a new standalone Apple Store.

“It’s more open and it seems like everything is well laid-out,” said Peter Feher, an Apple fan who was among the first customers at the new store. “I didn’t know it was going to be this big.”

The new Apple Store, with glass walls on two sides and a lower level, is not only larger than the old suite; it’s also designed from the ground up to include Apple’s approach to make its stores gathering places.

A massive video wall at the back of the store is visible from a paseo that stretches from the Giant Wheel courtyard. Apple uses space around the video wall to offer free classes, including coding for kids and shooting better photos with your phone.

Products are displayed on “The Avenue” walls — inspired by window shopping on a boulevard — categorized by activities such as music and photography.

Apple Geniuses, who offer technical support, now sit next to Mac, iPhone and iPad users anywhere in the store to help them, instead of consulting across the Genius Bar counter.

Apple’s efforts to make its stores into places where people meet up and make new friends jibes with the Spectrum, which draws more than 18 million visitors annually and has become a community hub.

In July, retail news provider Chain Store Age ranked the Spectrum one of the top five centers in the nation for customer experiences, noting its diverse array of dining and entertainment options and the new stores opening.

Irvine Company, the owner of the mall, built four buildings to welcome 30 new stores and restaurants.

Like Apple, H&M relocated to open a Southern California flagship store, the largest west of the Mississippi at 43,000 square feet.

The famous Hello Kitty Cafe transitioned from pop-up to permanent and offers spirits for the first time.

The new wing also features San Clemente-based socks retailer Stance, Laguna Beach jewelry brand Gorjana, coastal living décor brand SoHa Living and the Denim Lab, as well as eateries like 85°C Bakery Cafe, BLKdot Coffee, Afters Ice Cream, Falasophy and Robata Wasa.

“Irvine Spectrum Center has always reflected the social lives of the community, and now it is positioned even more for our shopping, dining and entertainment needs,” Windal said.

The renovated center is expected to contribute to increased revenue for the city, which relies heavily on sales tax for providing essential services like police and road maintenance.

The Luckey Climber is a feature that serves as a play structure and work of art.

Kids will love it!

A new exclusive lounge for families with young kids features restrooms, changing and nursing stations, and a movie area.

Then there’s the Luckey Climber, which is part jungle gym and part work of art. Named after designer Spencer Luckey, the play structure is 18 feet tall and 50 feet long.

Cory Warren, 41, a Southern California resident who had never visited the Spectrum, was taking photos of his 2-year-old daughter weaving up the Luckey Climber.

“It’s awesome, kid-friendly and clean,” Warren said of the center. “It’s not your average open mall. It definitely has a high-end feel. I’ll definitely be back.” 

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New merchants include:

  • Apple Irvine Spectrum Center
  • H&M
  • Gorjana
  • 85°C Bakery Cafe
  • BLKdot Coffee
  • Afters Ice Cream
  • Concrete Rose
  • Thomas James LA
  • Falasophy
  • Robata Wasa
  • SoHa Living
  • The Denim Lab
  • Ra Yoga
  • UnAffected

Coming soon:

  • Hello Kitty Cafe
  • Brigade LA
  • Drybar
  • Sephora
  • SST&C