Anyone even casually familiar with the Americana at Brand–the best outdoor shopping mall in Glendale and probably the world–has noticed the apartments lining its perimeter, perched above the stores. For superfans such as ourselves, they’ve been a constant source of fascination and intrigue. What are they like inside? Are the mall and the apartments affiliated? If you live there, do you hear the sweet sultry tones of Michael Bublé through your closed windows all day and night? Who has $5,000 to spend on rent every month and chooses to live above a mall? While using the mall’s free wifi to work on stuff (like this tell-all article) at the Barnes & Noble patio, we’d talked about the apartments a lot, how much we wished we could explore them. One week in mid-January, Paige had the idea, “We could see if they offer tours.”
Turns out, they do. These tours, of course, are intended only for prospective renters. Our strict moral code would normally prevent us from lying about something like this, so were nervous to call and make the appointment. We told ourselves, sure, we’re not currently in the market for a luxury apartment, but technically, someday we could be?
We did some online research to prepare. Based on their website’s listings, we determined which apartments we would say we were “most interested in.” A courtyard view was a must, so the two-bedroom top-floor Continental 419 was in. Proximity to the pool also seemed appealing, so the two-bedroom Marc 318 also made the cut. Emily bravely took on this responsibility and made the call.
She spoke with an associate–let’s call her Skylar. “I’m interested in some of the units listed on your website. Could I schedule a tour?” She tried to make her voice slightly deeper and raspier, to sound as wealthy as possible. There may have been a very deliberately placed “wonderful” instead of a “great.”
The tour was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. the next day.
The morning of our tour, we got dressed with a singular goal in mind: Does this outfit make me look rich? We both chose classic blue jeans and plain grey tops, by pure coincidence. We felt like we’d be suspicious enough without wearing matching outfits, so Emily changed into a striped shirt, like a fancy little French boy.
We arrived an hour early and parked in the “Future Resident Parking” per Skylar’s instructions on the phone. This made us anxious. We were so used to parking for free across the street at the Galleria–the Americana’s less glamorous, indoor mall neighbor–and walking over. Emily had never even entered the Americana garage. It felt dangerous and exhilarating.
We went to lunch and did our best to get in character. How would someone with FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH to spend on rent eat lunch? Emily ordered a risotto before noon. Paige treated herself to a full sandwich.
We got to the leasing office at exactly 12:30. As we checked in with the receptionist, and received ALL DAY parking validation–a luxury beyond comprehension–we spotted Skylar at a desk in the corner. She popped up from behind her Dell desktop, “Emily? Please, take a seat. I’ll be right over.” Once she joined us, we told her our situation. We said we were roommates (true) who live in Silver Lake (almost true), and that our lease was up in March (lie). This tour would be the beginning of us “exploring options” for a new place. This was a huge lie. We have no intention of moving out of our current apartment in East Hollywood. The fact that we are actual roommates just made it easier to lie to Skylar’s face about the rest. We’re good people, who usually never lie, but she bought all of it.
We were in.
Here are the basic facts that we learned in the elevator down to the ground floor. There are four buildings within the Americana at Brand Luxury Apartments: the Lido, the Raleigh, the Continental, and the Marc. The Lido is next to the Apple Store, the Raleigh is all two-story townhouses on Brand Blvd., the Marc is in the middle section, above the restaurant Katsuya, and the Continental is above the Cheesecake Factory and movie theater. The building with the gold dome next to Nordstrom is The Excelsior, but it was the first built, and is all condos, with completely separate management.
We exited the elevator by the Concierge, who we learned is the guardian angel of the Luxury Apartments by Caruso. At any hour of the day, they’re available to help you with anything you could ever possibly need. They’ll deliver food from any of the restaurants in the mall up to your apartment for no charge, place work orders and handle your maintenance needs, take care of your dry cleaning and packages, make reservations, and direct you to businesses around beautiful Glendale, CA. This is also where Skylar told us that each resident only gets five guest parking passes per month.
We were starting to get a picture of who would choose to live in these apartments above the mall–someone who wishes they could live in a hotel, and also never speak to anyone from the outside world ever again. Fair enough.
The Continental, in our minds, was the definition of the Americana Dream. Visible from the Barnes & Noble balcony, we’d admired it and its courtyard for years. A lush, green paradise with pops of pink and red flowers sitting above the Tesla showroom. Like the mythological Mount Olympus, an elevated dwelling place for the gods, it had been impossible to get any closer as mere mortals. Until now.
We entered the building via a set of golden elevators and arrived at Unit 419, which we were sure was destined to be the one we “wanted.” $4,025 was the cheapest two-bedroom after all (oh dear god), and it even overlooked the Courtyard.
The first thing Skylar pointed out was the Master Bedroom, which had an enormous closet. You could literally walk in and turn a corner. There may have been two corners, we don’t know, we got lost. This was the first chance we had to talk freely, out of Skylar’s view. Of course, we just muttered, “OH MY GOD,” to each other and walked back out, our wealthy dispositions reinstated.
This is where Emily asked her first burning question, “Do you hear the fountain music from inside the apartments?” The moment she asked, we realized how deathly silent it was in Continental 419. The glass is a special kind of glass, completely soundproof, but Skylar also gave us another option: “If you like white noise like me–so you don’t feel alone–you can always leave the balcony door a crack open.” Yikes!
In the bathroom, we noticed little shampoos and wrapped soaps, just like you’d find in a hotel room. We debated stealing them, but figured the people we were pretending to be would probably have plenty of soap at home.
Next, Skylar showed us the IN-UNIT FRONT-LOADING washer and dryer. Hiding our awe at this feature was a challenge, but we held it together.
She assured us, “You can always call the concierge if you can’t figure out how to use these.” So, who lives in these buildings? Our profile was growing: People who want to live in a hotel, never talk to anyone ever again, and don’t know how to use a washer and dryer.
Skylar added, “If you’re already ordering a cheese pizza from Cheesecake you might as well get some help with laundry.” Skylar seemed like a lonely woman. We were worried about her.
NOTE: She calls the Cheesecake Factory “Cheesecake.”
Caught up in the excitement of living out this fantasy, we added to our already dangerously-expanding fictional backstory, and told Skylar we were thinking about getting a dog. “Are there restrictions on pets?” Emily asked. Skylar said yes, there was a 50 pound limit, and that Great Danes and Pitbulls are not allowed. An outrage, but we moved on.
“Before you know it, the doormen and security will know your dog’s name… if you get one, of course.” We all laughed.
THE CONTINENTAL COURTYARD
Emily could wait no longer. “Can we go down to The Courtyard now?” she asked. Skylar said yes. The big moment had arrived.
As we descended from Unit 419, Skylar used her electronic key fob to lead us through high-ceilinged hallways, lobbies, elevators, hidden staircases, and one final set of French doors. “When you move in,” she said boldly, “You’ll have a similar fob that will give you access to the common areas.” Yes…WHEN we moved in… she was buying it.
As we passed through the French doors, we saw our first resident. A middle-aged woman quietly lounging by the outdoor fireplace, reading on her iPad. Who was she? Could she tell we weren’t serious about moving in?
Upon seeing the lush greenery up close, Emily noticed there were gardenias in the planters. “Are those gardenias always there, or are those leftover from Christmas?” A great question. Skylar was impressed. “You’re right! Those will be replaced soon.”
“Good,” we said. Good.
This was Sky’s perfect segway into the resident-exclusive community events. She told us, “Actually, every Christmas we have a fully catered Tree Lighting party out here, with complimentary hot cocoa for our residents.” It took everything in us not to gasp. Of course. Of course there are bi-monthly catered events for the residents.
We gathered ourselves. It was time to move on to the next unit.
WALK TO THE MARC
We headed to the more expensive building across the way, The Marc. We loved the Continental, but were excited to get a look at the pool and gym. Skylar told us, “If you choose to live in the Continental, there’s an underground pathway to the Marc, so you don’t have to walk across the mall in your bathing suit.” This sounded exciting and mysterious. Was Skylar implying a secret tunnel system? No. When pressed, she admitted, “It’s actually just the parking garage, but still.”
Since Skylar had spoken so highly of the concierge delivery service, we had to ask, “Do residents receive any kind of special discounts?”
“Yes, of course,” she told us, as if this were an absurd question. Another moment where we had to hide our shock. Can you imagine, getting 20% off at DeLuca’s Deli? We couldn’t.
“Are there any exceptions?” Paige asked.
“Yes, a few. But those are just stores like Tiffany, Nordstrom, Barney’s, the Apple Store… and actually, Cheesecake.”
PLEASE NOTE: The Cheesecake Factory refuses to participate in the resident discount program at the Luxury Apartments at the Americana at Brand. “We don’t need their fucking dirty money,” we’re sure the owner said. Respect.
A 15% off discount at Fantastic Sams (if, and only if, you spend $100 on services or products) is also in play. Fantastic Sams, you poor delusional bastards.
As we entered the lobby of the Marc, Emily commented on how good it smelled. Skylar, impressed again, said, “That’s actually Caruso’s signature scent, Tobacco Linen. You’ll find it in all of their properties.”
To this day, “Tobacco Linen” is the most rich person bullshit either of us has ever heard. We dream of someday purchasing a Tobacco Linen candle for our home, so we too can enjoy the scent of crisp, expensive, masculine linens.
Before we saw the Marc 318, our next two-bedroom prospect, Skylar took us to see the heated saltwater pool. (Paige had never even heard of a saltwater pool. Emily had, so turns out she’s fancier.)
We learned that this salty oasis was a hotbed of resident-exclusive events. The next one on the calendar was a catered poolside Super Bowl viewing party. In the summertime, “Pinkberry & Popsicles by the Pool” would be a common occurrence at the Marc. We started to wonder, “do we actually wish we could live here?” Maybe we do. How sad.
Sky told us that each apartment is only allowed 2 pool guests at a time, unless you rent a cabana, which goes for $80 and allows you 5 extra guests for 4 hours. Can you imagine spending $80 to hang out with more people from your former life? We couldn’t.
Skylar once again brought up the fact that we could have the concierge bring us food from anywhere in the mall. “This is where it can get dangerous, you and your friends in the cabana, ordering up as many pizzas from Cheesecake as you want!” Dangerous indeed.
Skylar asked if we were ready to see the gym. We could’ve happily drowned in that pool and ended our lives in the most glamorous way possible right then and there, but we followed her lead.
As we entered the fully-stocked fitness center, we saw the only other residents we would see for the rest of the tour. They were both women in their 30s or 40s running on treadmills, who did not seem happy with the intrusion.
The gym was large, with at least eight treadmills and even more ellipticals, but we were instantly drawn to one area in particular. There was a wall styled to look like a shelf in a grand old library, with artfully placed paperbacks surrounding a huge flat-screen TV. The wall next to the TV was stocked with every piece of exercise equipment that you could need to follow along with 30 Day Shred. There was also a refrigerator, made to look like a fancy cabinet and blend into the walls of the library that the Beast so lovingly built for Belle.
Lastly, we saw the locker room, which Skylar confidently walked us into without even knocking. We will never know why she was so sure there was nobody naked in there. There were showers, a sauna and–the greatest luxury of all–blow dryers, in case you don’t want to make the long journey back to your apartment to take care of those things.
THE PARTY ROOM
Next on the agenda was something we had never even heard of: a rentable “party room.” We first assumed it was a common area, because we’re simple commoners unused to the trappings of the bourgeoisie. Instead, it turned out that this light, airy poolside sanctuary was known as “The Great Room” and could be rented for $100 an hour (the first hour includes a doorman). Skylar informed us that residents often book it for parties, wine clubs and Illuminati meetings.
It looks just like an apartment, so you can have people over without really having people over. Whowants their home infected by non-Americana people? Why sully your actual apartment when you can just rent another space for a measly $100/hr? Treat yourself, as you do every day simply by living in these apartments.
As we left the Party Room, we saw this sign:
Apparently, not only can you avoid having guests in your apartment for a party, you can also avoid having your closest friends and family stay over when they come to town. The Americana at Brand not only has Luxury Apartments; it also has Luxury Guest Suites. For $185/night, you can tell your mom to leave you alone, you’re trying to enjoy your Marc 318.
THE MARC 318
The Marc 318 was a full-time, fully furnished model apartment. We could not have this one, even if we wanted to. It was far more beautiful than the Continental 419. Since we couldn’t rent this particular one, Skylar was very excited to point out the unit next door, which would be vacant in mid-February, several weeks before our imaginary lease was up.
While we were on the balcony, Skylar reminded us that all of the units in the Americana have a balcony. “Really? ALL of them?” we asked. Skylar confessed, “Except maybe two…” Why does Skylar keep lying to us like this?
We noted that one of the bathrooms (there were two) was the same size as Emily’s bedroom, large enough for Paige to take a leisurely stroll across it.
Emily, noticing the dark hardwood floors in the living room, asked, “Did The Continental have hardwood floors too?” It did not. It had, we cringe to even recount it: carpet throughout.
This was the final nail in the coffin for The Continental. How could we have ever wanted to live in a building with no pool, no gym and seasonally inappropriate foliage in its courtyard? The Continental was trash. The Marc was clearly our new home.
At this point, Skylar could see in our eyes that we were in love with this building, this unit, this life. She began her final sales pitch.
She called us over to the marble countertop in the kitchen and pulled out a stunning gold-embossed blue folder.
She outlined everything we needed to know about moving into our new home at the Americana at Brand Luxury Apartments by Caruso. It wasn’t a matter of “if” – it was a matter of “when.”
First, we’d need Renters Insurance. “Do you guys have that?” Skylar asked, hilariously. We couldn’t lie here. “No,” Emily said. Turns out, it’s only $125 a year. We should probably get it.
She gave us a sheet with utilities, parking, pet fees, AT&T U-Verse Bulk Package, everything. The only thing we couldn’t pay for through the them was electricity, for which we’d have to deal directly with the City of Glendale. This seemed an unnecessary monthly reminder of the world beyond our new kingdom.
“Great, we’ll look this over, and get back in touch with you closer to March when we’re thinking of moving,” Paige lied through her teeth.Ready to head back to the office, we were startled when Skylar casually opened the gorgeous stainless steel refrigerator. “Would you like a complimentary snack or beverage on your way out?”
The glow washed over us. Packages of M&Ms and Reese’s lay flat in perfect rows. There were Perriers, various colas, and most notably, exclusive Americana-branded water bottles with labels featuring the famous Americana golden fountain statue guy (we don’t know his name). Our greatest regret in this whole experience is that we panicked and took a pack of peanut M&Ms and a Perrier, leaving the once-in-a-lifetime Americana Water Bottles behind in that silver beauty.
Skylar closed the fridge, and led us back to her office next to the parking structure.
BACK TO THE OFFICE
On the way back, we became worried. Would Skylar try to get us to commit to moving in? Was she onto our game, and actually leading us to be detained by the Americana at Brand Security Forces? If we got banned from the Americana we would die, just DIE.
We must have seemed frightened, because Skylar closed the tour by letting us know that if we ever wanted to walk across to the Target in the Galleria, we could always call the Concierge for an escort.
So, who lives in the apartments above the Americana? Our picture was complete: someone who wishes they could live in a hotel, never speak to anyone from the outside world ever again, doesn’t know how to use a washer and dryer, and who is terrified to walk through the mall and across the street to the other mall alone.
In the end, Skylar must have really believed we wouldn’t move in until March, because she didn’t press us for any more information. She let us go, and told us she’d email us if any new two bedroom units became available. What a professional.
As we left the leasing office, we were giddy with relief. We had gotten away with it. Thrilled with all this new information, we grabbed our backpacks out of Emily’s trunk and went back to the Barnes & Noble balcony to debrief. The familiar view of the Continental Courtyard would always be just a little bit different.
We did our best as investigative journalists to learn everything about these little palaces by Caruso, but we still have a few unanswered questions. Below are simply our theories. They are not based on factual evidence, and do not reflect the views of The Higgs Weldon.
1. Does Skylar live there?
It seems like she orders a lot of Cheesecake pizzas to her apartment. But is she just excited about the idea of pizzas? Does she dream of living in The Lido one day? How much does it pay to work for the leasing office at the A at B? Is living on-site a perk of the job? We wish we could have spent more time getting to know Sky, but we didn’t want to lead her on. We haven’t even responded to her follow up emails. (SKYLAR: If you’re reading this, we’re sorry.)
Overall, we believe she does live there. She seemed too passionate about the food delivery options and the “danger” of having a 24 hour cupcake ATM right downstairs to be a mere bystander.
2. Who else lives there?
Our theory: it’s three groups of people. Mistresses of wealthy benefactors, stay-at-home moms and dads who don’t want to cook for their children, and privileged morons living on their parents’ dime. That’s just what we think.
3. Do we wish we lived there?
Our theory: at first yes, but ultimately, no. Of course, a world where we have this kind of money is enticing. Imagine, never having to lift a finger. Renting a cabana whenever you want to see three or more people. It sounds amazing. But ultimately, what is a life where you never leave the mall? The reason we love the Americana is that when we’re done on the B & N balcony, we leave. We miss it. We learn to appreciate it when we’re there.
In many ways, this piece feels like a recommendation/glowing review of the the A at B Luxury A’s, but, it’s actually a cautionary tale. If you have enough free time to enjoy all the impressive amenities, are you really living your life at all? Something to ponder next time you lament having to pay non-resident prices at Madewell.
The Higgs Weldon is a humor website with funny stories, articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was started by the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!