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Planning Board Gives Nod to Santa Monica Place Remodel:

After many months of meeting with various stakeholders in the community, Macerich, owners of Santa Monica Place (SMP), presented its remodel proposal to Santa Monica’s Planning Commission.

At the June 20 meeting, Macerich officials told the Commission that a remodel was necessary because SMP shopping mall today is a “suburban-type shopping center in an urban environment,” meaning the existing 676,181-square-foot mall is “enclosed, inward facing and not pedestrian oriented.” To deal with these issues, Macerich is proposing tearing off the mall’s roof and doors, creating an open-air extension of the Promenade, moving the food court to the third level, creating open public spaces, modifying the mall’s entrances and creating a more vibrant dining and shopping experience.

Other positives from the remodel, according to Macerich, are the public benefits, which include additional tax revenue for City programs, a public art installation and a community gallery, family rest rooms and an improved community room.

The officials also pointed out that the remodel proposal “reflects the values heard from the public.” These values are: “Build something of reasonable scale, create a better connection with the Third Street Promenade, include open-air views and street retail elements, develop an environmentally sound project, pay attention to traffic and parking and make retail the primary use of SMP.” Other parameters taken into account in designing the remodel include retaining the parking decks and area housing Macy’s and making sure economically the project “pencils out.”

Representatives from Macerich also noted the remodel will retain the existing height of the mall but will reduce its square footage by approximately 10,234 square feet. In addition, 63 parking spaces will be lost from the existing parking decks. The remodeled mall will ultimately contain a center court that is twice as large as the existing center court and the third level food court will contain both indoor and outdoor eating areas as well as sit down restaurants. Lastly, Macerich noted that by tearing off the roof approximately 460,000 kilowatt hours of electricity would be saved.

Commission members were very enthusiastic about the proposed remodel. Commissioner Darrell Clarke said, “I think you’ve done something special.”

Commissioner Jay Johnson stated, “I think we have a world class project” here.

The only Commissioner who had some reservations about the project was Julie Lopez-Dad. She supported the remodel but was concerned about the “unintended impacts” it may have on parking and traffic.

The next step will be for the proposal to go through an initial environmental study. It will then be reviewed by the City’s Redevelopment Agency in the fall. After that, the City’s Architectural Review Board and Arts Commission will review it.

Construction is expected to start in 2008, will last approximately 20 months and the mall will reopen in 2009. During construction only the parking decks and Macy’s will remain open.

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