Rivian to Bring ‘New Automotive Retail Experience’ to South Coast Theater

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Construction is well underway at South Coast Theater on Coast Highway – the future home of electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian’s “Spaces” and part of a collection of temporary and permanent retail and experiential centers Rivian has planned around the country. 

A concept design of Rivian’s Spaces exterior at South Coast Theater. Courtesy of Rivian.

“We’re knee-deep in construction right now,” said Denise Cherry, senior director of facilities design and retail development at Rivian and Orange County native. “They’re about to pour the slab, and restoration will start over the next few months. It’s just moving right along. And you can start to see the character of the building come back to life. It’s so exciting. I’m really looking forward to the opening.”

Rivian plans to expand its retail footprint through 2024 with the introduction of different Spaces formats, ranging from product-focused experience sites, like 10th Avenue in New York, to more unique locations, like a former historic gas station turned Rivian Charging Outpost in Groveland, Calif., the gateway town to Yosemite National Park.

Cherry said she considers South Coast Theater the “crown jewel” in Rivian’s portfolio and hopes the building will become a valued place for Laguna when it eventually opens at the end of the year.

A rendering of Rivian’s Spaces interior. Courtesy of Rivian.

“We’ve worked closely with many different local groups, historic architects, and individuals to ensure that it maintains all of the same character,” said Cherry, who used to see movies there when Regency Theatres owned it. “When I went there as a kid, it was actually divided into two theaters. In the course of its life, the building went from one large, beautiful grand movie theater to two smaller ones. We’ve removed all of that and are bringing back the true full volume of the space. The exterior will go back to what it looked like when it was built in 1920s, including the new marquee.”

Rivian opened its most recent Spaces in New York City’s Meatpacking District on June 16. The New York City Space is designed as a family-friendly environment for guests to interact with and drive Rivian vehicles, speak with specialists and shop Rivian merchandise. The company hopes to set the same tone for future Rivian Spaces, including South Coast Theater.

“Rivian Spaces are purposefully designed to be casual and inviting, where anyone curious is welcome to learn more about us and our products,” said Cherry. “We’ve peeled away the formality associated with automotive retail and focused on creating a relaxed, family-friendly environment that invites guests to stay awhile and discover at their own pace. Our Spaces are designed around the question of ‘Where do you want to go?”

Rivian plans to expand its retail footprint through 2024 with the introduction of different Spaces formats, ranging from product-focused experience sites, like 10th Avenue in New York, to more unique locations, like a former historic gas station turned Rivian Charging Outpost in Groveland, California a gateway town to Yosemite National Park.

Since the unveiling of Rivian’s first Space in October of 2021 in Venice Beach, the car manufacturer said it recognized the effect its physical sites can have on the local community by supporting events such as speaker series, children’s activities and dog adoptions, and hope to follow the same path with the Laguna site. 

“We’ve made a promise and a commitment to the community that various nonprofits will be able to use part of the site for activities for events,” Cherry said. “We’re starting those conversations right now and figuring out some really great partners. We want to make sure that everyone in Laguna feels like this is as much of their home as it is ours.

Additional upcoming Rivian Spaces include an indoor/outdoor 10,000 square foot site in Austin, Texas, complete with a green space, rooftop patio with panoramic views of the city, and direct access to the Ladybird Lake biking and running trail in the city’s South Congress district. Select Spaces will feature Rivian electric vehicle chargers.

“The launch of Rivian Spaces is a key part of our next phase of growth, introducing retail sites as a primary experiential touchpoint and bringing the brand to life through an in-store experience,” said Tony Caravano, senior director of customer engagement at Rivian. “By planting roots in key areas across North America, we are building out our brick-and-mortar footprint to support current, future and prospective customers, meeting them where they are and showing up in a way that is authentic to Rivian.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s a living room with a car in it? I’d rather have the old theater even if it was run down and split in two. But what the hell, an electric truck company can’t be all bad. I guess even rich folks need to feel they are doing something about climate change.

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