The Santa Monica City Council was informed Monday in an information item by Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson that “at the request of the Macerich Company, its Reimagine Santa Monica Place activities are being placed on hold.”
According to Anderson, “Macerich anticipates resuming the process once there is more information regarding the future of the Robinson-May store in Santa Monica Place, which Federated Department Stores recently announced would close after the beginning of the year.”
In January, Macerich presented a proposal to the City Council for the redevelopment of Santa Monica Place. The proposal, which included three 21-story condo towers, triggered immediate opposition from many residents, was rejected by the Council, and was subsequently withdrawn by Macerich.
The Council then directed staff to work with Macerich to solicit ideas from the community on what changes, if any, should be made at Santa Monica Place, and to prepare an economic analysis of the redevelopment that would be developed and overseen by City staff but funded by Macerich.
The Council asked that these reports be expedited so that the proposal could return to it by the end of 2005. In February, the City entered into a contract with Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc (MIG) “to create and execute a far-reaching community engagement process. The City also entered into a contract with Keyser-Marston Associates, Inc. (KMA) to provide financial consulting services to the City.
Between March and May, a number of “outreach activities” were undertaken, including a City mailing to 46,000 Santa Monica households, and four community workshops held over eight days at different locations around Santa Monica.
The mailing consisted of a questionnaire that sought community input on the “assets and issues related to the present mall.” Nearly 2,000 community members who attended the community workshops have returned questionnaires with their suggestions and ideas, and nearly 300 community members attended the March workshops, which were run by MIG.
The City and MIG also conducted a series of “Community Interest Group” meetings with several Santa Monica boards and commissions.
In May, the City engaged Goodwin Simon Strategic Research to conduct a telephone survey of Santa Monica households to further gauge community opinion on potential opportunities to rejuvenate the mall. The results of these efforts have been summarized and posted on the Reimagine Santa Monica Place website, www.reimagine-santamonicaplace.com.
However, many residents have been critical of the “ community outreach” process, alleging that both the surveys and workshops were designed specifically to elicit positive responses on redevelopment from participants.Again, according to Anderson’s information item to the Council, “Based on the findings and information, Macerich and its architects were to prepare new concept alternatives for Santa Monica Place. The City’s independent financial expert then was to study the alternatives for economic feasibility and financial requirements. The project alternatives and economic analysis were projected to be presented to the public for review and comment in September, prior to review by the Planning Commission and consideration by the City Council. Now that Macerich has placed the effort on hold, including all consultant work, the two summary reports prepared by MIG and posted on the project website provide the latest information regarding the process to date. Once Macerich resumes the project activities, a new timeframe will be developed.”