Logo horizontal ruler


About Us Contact

Macerich Submits Modest Proposal for Mall Remodel

By Jorge Casuso

March 7 -- Seven years after embarking on an ambitious plan to redevelop Santa Monica Place, the Macerich Company on Tuesday submitted a modest proposal to the City to tear the roof and doors off the indoor mall and connect it to the Third Street Promenade.

The remodel -- which features an open-air center court and a third-floor food court overlooking the Pacific -- comes two years after the City Council rejected plans for a major redevelopment that included three 21-story condo towers.

Santa Monica Place Palm Plaza
Palm Plaza (Images courtesy of The Jerde Partnership)

Under the new proposal, Macy’s department store, as well as the two public parking structures totaling nearly 2,000 spaces, will stay open during construction, which is slated to start in a year and completed by fall 2009, mall officials said.

The proposed remodel was shaped with input from residents who attended a series of meetings last year after the City Council sent Macerich back to the drawing table.

“What we have is an evolution. . . based on what the community wanted,” said Robert Aptaker, Macerich’s vice president of development. “We really wanted there to be an iconic addition to Santa Monica’s Downtown.

“We want it to fit in with what Santa Monicans expect of Downtown, what they would like to see for the Downtown,” Aptaker said. “It’s going to bring a new architectural language to the property.”

Designed by world-renown architect Frank Gehry, the 27-year-old mall has long been viewed as a bulky fortress blocking the path between the thriving Promenade to the north and the Civic Center, which is slated for major development, to the south.

Santa Monica Place Third Street
Third Street Entrance

The goal of the remodel is to integrate the three-story structure -- which occupies two city blocks -- with the surrounding streets, open it up to the sky and tie it to the pier and ocean just a short stroll away, mall officials said.

“Today the mall is closed and inward facing,” Aptaker said. “We want to open it up to the sky, the neighborhood and the streets. What it’s about is connections, and taking the doors off goes a long way to that.”

Unlike the scrapped proposal that called for hundreds of housing units, an office building and a roof-top park, the current plan remains within the existing footprint, mall officials said.

“There won’t be an expansion,” Aptaker said. “We’re taking an urban shopping center and making it better… We want to de-emphasize the uniformity of the mall and emphasize the stores, make it feel more what it feels like walking the streets in Santa Monica.”

Santa Monica Place 2nd street facade
Second Street

Although there has been strong interest, mall officials have not decided what stores will lease the more than 100 spaces in the 570,000-square-foot structure, Aptaker said. Macerich has also not yet decided whether it will carve additional shops from of the old Robinson’s May space bought by the company.

But mall officials said they will take to heart the suggestions of residents and community leaders.

“It will be somewhere residents can go to shop for everyday needs,” said Robyn Young, senior manager of development relations for Macerich. “We think we can help compliment the retailers here.”

Picture Santa Monica Place Dinning Deck
Dining Deck

The proposed remodel will include an open-air central court Macerich officials hope will become a meeting place for local residents and a food court on a rooftop veranda with “great views that will be a special place in Santa Monica,” Young said.

The mall will also feature a children’s area, public art installations and family restrooms, Young said.

After receiving the proposal Tuesday, City officials will review the package and determine the level of environmental review the project must undergo, Aptaker said.

The proposal will then go before the City’s Redevelopment Agency, Architectural Review Board and Arts Commission, as well as the California Coastal Commission.

Santa Monica Place fourth street facade
4th Street

We hope to finish in late fall and start construction a year from now,” Aptaker said.

While the mall giant, which is headquartered in Downtown Santa Monica, owns some 70 malls nationwide, the Santa Monica Place remodel is special, Macerich officials said.

“This is a big project for Macerich,” he added. “It’s in our own backyard, and we have a lot of pride.”







Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.
Footer Email icon