The Santa Monica City Council is scheduled to consider a proposal Tuesday, December 14th, for a major redevelopment of the Santa Monica Place site.
The Macerich Company — which owns the Santa Monica Place mall — unveiled plans for a massive facelift of the downtown Santa Monica mall and an extension of the Third Street Promenade through the Santa Monica Place site Thursday, November 18th, at a Bayside District Corporation meeting.
Macerich is a Santa Monica-based company that owns 60 other malls throughout the U.S.
The firm presented an estimated $200 million to $225 million redevelopment plan for the Santa Monica Place site.
Bayside is a nonprofit organization authorized by the City of Santa Monica to manage city downtown areas.
“Our goal is to establish a connection between Santa Monica landmarks,” said Randy Brant, Macerich senior vice president of development and leasing. “We actually want to create a fourth block of Third Street.”
PROPOSED PLANS — If the city approves the plan, Macerich will drastically change downtown Santa Monica, which draws more than three million tourists and shoppers each year.
Jerde Architecture and Urban Design of Venice is the architect firm that designed the project for Macerich.
Macerich plans to:
n raze the three-level indoor Santa Monica Place and build a two-story, outdoor shopping center at the intersection of Fourth Street and Broadway;
n build three 21-story condominium towers with 300 condos and one seven-story rental unit tower with 150 apartments between Third and Fourth Streets;
n build one seven-story office complex tower for an estimated 300 office workers at the intersection of Broadway and Second Street;
n extend the Third Street Promenade one block south to Colorado Avenue, which would move outdoor street shopping closer to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium;
n plant six acres of park space, half of which would be for tower residents and the other half for the public to walk easily from Third Street Promenade to the Santa Monica Pier; and
n build four levels of underground parking that would span the entire ten-acre, redeveloped site and feature a high-technology computerized parking system that directs drivers to open parking spaces.
“We want to make it [the proposed site] look like an urban street and not a shopping center,” Brant said. “We don’t want it to look like a mall.
“We want it to look like it has been there a while.”
Brant also said some park space would be “private property open to the public under rules and conditions.”
Some people are concerned that Macerich could deny the use of space for public street performances and street vendors.
SANTA MONICA PLACE — The 570,000-square-foot mall was built in 1980, based on designs by renowned architect and Santa Monica resident Frank Gehry.
Located at the intersection of Fourth Street and Broadway at the south end of the Third Street Promenade, the mall has three levels of sky-lit indoor shopping.
Last renovated in 1990, Santa Monica Place has 120 retail shops, service stores and eateries anchored by the Robinsons-May and Macy’s department stores.
Santa Monica Place attracts shoppers from the Los Angeles International Airport area on the south to Malibu on the north, and has been the site of many Hollywood production shoots, say developers.
However, Brant said the mall is on a downward trend of losing businesses and shoppers in recent years.
“Santa Monica Place was a catalyst for the Third Street Promenade, but today it is in the shadows of the Promenade,” Brant said.
Robinsons-May and Macy’s previously signed favorable long-term contracts with Macerich and both stores indicated that they would like to come back to the site when it is redeveloped, Brant said.
Janet Morris, whose family owns retail space on the Promenade, thinks a new Santa Monica Place would take luster away from the Promenade, which is currently much more popular than the mall.
“I think this is a lovely project,” Morris said. “I’m just afraid that this is going to be a repeating cycle where Santa Monica Place will be the new kid on the block and Third Street Promenade is going down the tubes.”
POTENTIAL BACKLASH — Santa Monica city officials first heard that Macerich wanted to redevelop Santa Monica Place in June 2002 at a joint meeting of the City Council and other city agencies.
Macerich’s current plans do not conform to city ordinances for construction and building design.
The company has applied and paid $15,000 for a development agreement with the City of Santa Monica.
In such an agreement, developers and City Council members negotiate arrangements where developers offer thousands and sometimes millions of dollars in public benefits to the city and city officials allow developers leeway around city ordinances.
City officials have consistently said they prefer a 15-story cap on towers to keep intact Santa Monica’s open-air beach environment.
Santa Monica residents have also repeatedly spoken against tall towers.
Currently, the tallest building in Santa Monica is the GTE Building at 100 Wilshire Blvd.
“The height issue is a multi-faceted issue,” Brant said. “Tall towers are what look best. When you take them down lower, they become wider, more massive and cut off views.”
Brant also said Macerich could hand over housing operations to another company.
“There is high demand in Santa Monica for residential development,” Brant said. “There are plenty of qualified residential developers who would love to buy the rights to the residential development.”