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Macerich Does Show For ARB:

Santa Monica’s Architectural Review Board was given a presentation on the redevelopment of Santa Monica Place at its Monday night meeting.

Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson and consultant Daniel Iacofano outlined the process by which the Macerich Corporation is gathering and responding to public views on how to redevelop the 25-year old mall.

In January, Macerich presented a general plan to the Santa Monica City Council. At that time, the Council directed City staff to work with Macerich on a development agreement with the proviso that community input be sought on the plans.

A series of four workshops was held recently at which members of the community voiced their concerns and ideas on the redevelopment. The City/Macerich partnership is now holding meetings with special interest groups, such as the ARB.

Iacofano presented a Powerpoint “virtual walking tour” of the Santa Monica Place area to the ARB. He focused on the four corners of the mall, discussing the issues involved with each of them, including the need to allow for a possible future transit center connection, and the desire to keep new construction in scale with surrounding buildings.

After Iacofano’s presentation, the floor was opened for input from the public and the members of the ARB. Board member Rodolfo Alvarez said he was concerned about public access to ocean views and suggested that one benefit of higher buildings would be the utilization of the rooftops as public spaces, such as gardens, that would allow the average person to have a glimpse of the ocean.

Board member Michael Folonis noted that the re-development of Santa Monica Place was taking place only 25 years after a massive plan had been devised to build the mall. Since that planning for the future had obviously not worked out, he wondered whether any plans made now would be viable 25 years from now.

Most board members expressed some concern about the need to restrict heights but Edouard Mimieux observed that following city guidelines about stepbacks would preclude height problems.

Public input was also given by two audience members. Jerry Rubin commended Macerich for holding public hearings and gathering input but suggested “With a light rail system possibly coming, we need to plan for 40 years in the future.” He also reminded Macerich to keep the Third Street Promenade as a public thoroughfare and suggested that underground parking be part of the plan.

Resident Ellen Brennan questioned what “trade-offs” would be inherent in the plan. Who or what would pay for the underground parking? “This is the most congested area in Santa Monica right now,” she said, adding: “The city has a look to it. Keep the low horizon-look that the people want. Don’t give us density and don’t give us more height.”

The City and Macerich will schedule additional meetings in the near future. Input from residents is also welcomed via e-mail. Information can be found at www.reimagine-santamonicaplace.comAccording to Anderson, the community feedback will be relayed to the Planning Commission and the Council in the next few months. That will be followed in late summer or early fall by presentation of a proposed development agreement.

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