The City of Santa Monica issued an update Monday on “Reimagine Santa Monica Place,” the joint City and Macerich effort to elicit community opinion on the redevelopment of the mall. The “outreach process” was initiated after the Macerich Company presented a proposal to the City Council in January for the redevelopment of the site. The City Council rejected the proposal and directed Macerich to go “back to the drawing board.” The proposal was withdrawn and Council directed Macerich to work with the City to gather ideas from the community on what changes, if any, should be made at Santa Monica Place. The process began with a city-wide mailing to 46,000 households inviting residents to four community workshops. A series of community interest group meetings were also held and a telephone survey of Santa Monica households is being conducted to further gauge community opinion. Nearly 2,000 comment cards from local residents and business owners have been received by the City. “We are gratified by the broad community participation in this initial phase of outreach,” said Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson. “More than 300 residents attended the workshops and the thousands of comment cards received by the City are helpful and we look forward to the survey results.” The City retained Moore, Iacafano, Goltsman, Inc. (MIG), which it described as “independent public engagement consultants,” to facilitate outreach to the community. MIG is currently collating and analyzing information gathered from the community workshops, group meetings and comment cards. After the phone survey results are added, MIG will identify common themes and preferences for presentation to the City and Macerich. Based on the community input, Macerich and its architects will develop new concept alternatives for Santa Monica Place. The city’s independent financial expert will then study the alternatives for economic feasibility and financial requirements. The project alternatives and economic analysis will be presented to the public for review and comment later this spring, prior to review by the Planning Commission and consideration by the City Council. If a project agreeable to both Macerich and the City Council emerges through this process, the City Council will be asked to provide direction to City staff on negotiation terms for a potential development agreement. Assuming the Council gives such direction, a development agreement would be considered by the Planning Commission and the City Council at subsequent public hearings. The City will continue to provide updates on the process through postings on www.reimagine-santamonicaplace.com During the initial phase of community outreach, according to City staff, the frequently asked questions were: Q. Who owns the site? A. Santa Monica Place is in multiple ownership, with the parking structure sites owned by the city’s Redevelopment Agency, the Macy’s site owned by a third party under long-term lease to Macy’s, the Robinsons-May site owned by Macerich under long-term lease to Robinsons-May and the remainder and majority of the mall site owned by Macerich. Q. Is there still a plan to build 21-story towers? A. The Macerich Company originally prepared a plan that included high-rise residential buildings. However, that plan and the accompanying draft development agreement have been officially withdrawn by the Macerich Company, following the City Council’s direction in January to start afresh in considering opportunities for the site. A completely new plan will be created following the community outreach process. Q. What is the future of the department stores? A. As discussed above, both department stores have long-term control of their sites, have controlling interests in any changes to the site, and have indicated their desire to be included in any revitalization plan for Santa Monica Place. Federated Stores, owner of Macy’s, is currently in negotiations to merge with May Company, owner of Robinson-May. The city and Macerich have received no information regarding the impacts of the merger on future plans for the site. Q. Has the City made a commitment to contribute funds to the Santa Monica Place revitalization? A. The City has not agreed to, nor is it in discussions to, commit any funds toward the project. Any financial commitment on behalf of the city would need to be considered and approved by the City Council at a public hearing. Q. Are the city and Macerich currently negotiating a development agreement? A. No. Development agreement negotiations will not commence until the City Council has given direction regarding an acceptable project and the terms of negotiation. Q. Where can the public get additional information about the project? A. Project information and updates are posted at a website developed just for the project as part of the community outreach process: www.reimagine-santamonicaplace.com.
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