The Macerich Company, owner of the Santa Monica Place indoor mall at the south end of The Third Street Promenade, submitted its formal renovation plans to the City and the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, March 6. The plans call for tearing off the roof, moving food service to an indoor/outdoor dining deck on the third level and creating open public spaces.
The mall, which was built in 1980 and purchased by Macerich in 1999, is now “a suburban shopping center in an urban environment,” said Robert Aptaker, Vice President, Real Estate, of Macerich. “We want it to fit in downtown.”
In order to make it fit, Macerich proposes to open it up. In addition to removing the roof and elevating dining to sea breezes and ocean views, the mall doors will disappear and “entrances” will be open connections to the community; there will be public art installations and a children’s play area.
The “footprint” of the project will remain unchanged; it will have no more height, and a little less in some areas, than the existing mall; and there will actually be less than the current 553,000 leasable square feet so as to accommodate the increased open space.
March 15 Open House
Macerich will hold a public open house on the evening of Thursday, March 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Level 1 of Santa Monica Place, in space No. 189 (in the Macy’s wing). Renderings of the project will be on display, and Company representatives and City staff will be available for discussion and questions.
The formal renovation plans submitted to the City and the Redevelopment Agency on March 6 are available for public inspection through the City, according to Macerich.
Review Process Begins
The March 6 filing of the formal plans by Macerich sets in motion the review and approval process through which the project must pass. This includes the Planning Commission advisory review, CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review by both City staff and the public, and reviews by the Redevelopment Agency, the City Council, the Architectural Review Board and the Coastal Commission.
Because Macerich held more than a dozen community outreach meetings last year with neighborhood associations, business interests and political groups, and incorporated the input from those meetings in its plans, it hopes that these reviews and hearings will proceed more smoothly than the outcry which greeted its January 2005 plans for a mixed use development that incorporated residential towers.
After that 2005 proposal, the City Council wanted Macerich to do more extensive community outreach, and it has now done just that. In fact, Macerich suggests that the new plan was really written by the community, and the company cites six key requests that it says the new plan is responsive to:
• Build something of reasonable scale, in line with Santa Monica’s aesthetic sensibilities
• Create a better connection with Third Street Promenade
• Include open-air, views and street-retail elements
• Develop an environmentally sound project
• Make retail the primary use at Santa Monica Place
• Pay attention to traffic and parking
If all proceeds according to plan (always a big “if”), Macerich hopes to begin construction in Spring 2008 and plans for a Grand Opening in late Fall 2009. Santa Monica Place will be closed during that construction period, but the parking structures will remain open.
Some things cannot be changed. Macerich does not own the Macy’s building. The parking structures are owned by the Redevelopment Agency and leased to the City which leases them to Macerich, according to Aptaker, although minor modification to a parking structure is included in the plan to accommodate the food deck.
The design architect on the project is The Jerde Partnership of Venice, California, which describes its professional mission as being “to advance the creation of memorable places where people can gather and experience a sense of community”; it calls this vision Jerde Placemaking. Its award-winning projects include San Diego’s Horton Plaza (1985) and the Universal City Walk (1993).
Macerich Vice President Aptaker says the whole idea is “to take the mall and make it not a mall – make it fit within this community.”
A bird’s-eye view of the planned dining deck on the third level of the new
Santa Monica Place; the view is facing east.
Looking across Fourth Street at the east elevation of the renovated Santa
Monica Place, the entrance is open to the sky; Macy’s is on the left.
Looking across Second Street at the west elevation of the
mall-that-is-not-a-mall. Sears is out of the picture, off to the right.
Standing in front of Sears and facing north across Colorado Avenue, the
doors have been removed to open the entrance. The new community room with indoor and outdoor spaces is on the third level, right center.
The elliptical center of the new Santa Monica Place is open to the sun and