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Santa Monica Place’s Macy’s Is Becoming A Bloomingdale’s:

Converting Santa Monica Place’s Macy’s to a Bloomingdale’s is no easy task.

Eileen Fogerty who is the City of Santa Monica’s Director of Planning and Community Development told members of the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board at a January 21 joint meeting, the two bodies there were tremendous challenges with the conversion because the Macy’s site was built with its back to the street 30 years ago. The City staff report states the City would like the site to become compatible with the re-design of Santa Monica Place. This re-design will be more focused on “being integrated with Santa Monica’s downtown by extending the Third Street Promenade and providing welcoming entrances on all four sides.”

Once completed the new Bloomingdale’s will contain 100,000 square feet in two store levels. The third level of the site will be turned over to Macerich, Santa Monica Place’s owner. The site’s architecture will reflect Boomingdale’s brand colors which are black, white and silver. This store’s merchandise will be different than other Bloomingdale’s because it will be based upon Bloomingdale’s SoHo-store concept. This will mean the store will be offering contemporary distinctive men’s and women’s merchandise tailored for the Santa Monica area.

The Planning Director emphasized the overarching design issue from the City’s standpoint was the project’s corner element at the intersection of 4th Street and Colorado Avenue. This is because the corner would be located cattycorner from the future light rail terminus and therefore would become a gateway to the City’s downtown core. Other significant design issues from the City’s perspective were the project’s pedestrian orientation, its 3rd floor occupancy by Macerich and the building’s massiveness.

City staff would like the site’s pedestrian orientation to be improved with large windows so pedestrians can see into the store and by widening the site’s sidewalks. They also requested the design to reflect the fact that Bloomingdale’s will not occupy the third level and that design components be incorporated to help diminish the site’s massiveness.

Bruce Quizno who is the Operating Vice-President of Construction and Development for Macy’s Incorporated explained during his presentation that his company has had to close 11 stores nationwide due to the slowing of the economy. Therefore, the economics of this project was an issue and “everything must pencil out.” He and his architect have designed several different concepts to help address the City’s concerns.

Planning Commission Chair Terry O’Day mentioned after the discussion that “we want to make sure the project is thoroughly thought through” before it goes ahead. Members of the Planning Commission and the ARB agreed with the suggestions from City staff and made some suggestions of their own.

The community will be given a chance to comment on the project’s design in February. The project will be reviewed by the City Council in March and then it will be reviewed by the ARB once again and by the City’s Arts Commission. Macy’s Incorporated hopes to open the Bloomingdale’s in March of 2010.

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