Hundreds gathered on the Third Street Promenade last Thursday to watch the beginning of Santa Monica Place’s demolition work.
The mall’s Broadway entrance sign was the first thing to go. First Santa, then Monica, then Place crashed to the ground, accompanied by music and fireworks.
Randy Brant, executive vice president of Macerich, the owner and developer of Santa Monica Place, told the crowd that this was a “long awaited moment when we say good-bye to the old SMP and welcome the new. Today is a big day for Macerich and the City of Santa Monica. Today is the day we begin construction of a sophisticated, open-air, retail, dining landmark that will represent the community’s expectations. The project will also be sustainable.”
City Manager Lamont Ewell participated in the festivities. Said Ewell, “Today is a true day of celebration. This new project will be an important connection point between the Third Street Promenade and the Civic Center and beyond. City residents came together with Macerich to come up with the right design to fit the right site in this community.”
Macerich officials noted during the City’s Planning Commission’s review of the project that the remodel proposal “reflects the values heard from the public.” These values were “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 included retaining the parking decks and the area housing Macy’s, as well as making sure the project “pencils out” economically.
The remodel will remain the same height of the current mall, but will have approximately 10,234 square feet less space. 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 dining in restaurants.
The remodel will also give public benefits to the City such as additional tax revenue for City programs, family rest rooms, a public art installation and community gallery, and an improved community room.
Construction will last approximately 18 months, and the mall will reopen in the fall of 2009. Only the parking decks and Macy’s will remain open during construction.