An informative construction site tour of Santa Monica Place, owned by the Macerich Company, gave participants a first-hand look at the progress that has been made since demolition officially began on April 17th.

A group of 40, comprised of Santa Monica city manager P. Lamont Ewell, members of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, business representatives and the media, was invited to tour the construction site — complete with hardhats and protective eyewear — on Wednesday, August 6th, led by Bob Aptaker, CDP, vice president of development for the Macerich Company.

Macerich — headquartered in Santa Monica for almost 30 years — wanted a design to complement both the Santa Monica area and the beach atmosphere. The $265 million renovation project is slated for completion by fall next year.

The design architect is Pugh + Scarpa Architects of Santa Monica, listing among their numerous designs Bergamot Artist Lofts and the expansion and remodel of the campus bookstore at Santa Monica College.

The executive architect has not yet been chosen, said Aptaker.

The proposed open-air mall, bounded by Colorado Avenue, Broadway and Second and Fourth Streets, will be more connected to downtown Santa Monica, offering three levels of open-air shopping, signature rooftop dining with ocean views, and featuring an open center court plaza that is elliptical in design, Aptaker said.

The project will utilize 1,900 tons of new steel and 7,500 cubic-yards of concrete, with up to 400 workers at the peak of construction. More than 50 percent of the material will be re-used.

“We were very pleased to show people all the great construction progress we’re making at Santa Monica Place and allow people to experience these first moments of it being an open-air property,” Aptaker said. “Of course we still have a long way to go, but you can already see how dramatic the transformation of the property will be. It really will be an all-new Santa Monica Place.

“What many people find exciting is that we are recycling 95 percent of the construction materials. We look forward to sharing lots more news in the coming months, including some great new retail names to go along with Nordstrom,” said Aptaker.

Aptaker said the old mall covered roughly 548,000 square feet, but the new open-air version will be around 10,000 square feet less.

“Santa Monica Place reconstruction will be an exceptional destination for this truly exceptional downtown area,” said Ewell. “I look forward to the grand reopening.”

Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the original shopping mall that was built in 1980. Business began to decline when the Third Street Promenade businesses and restaurants became a destination site in the mid-1990s.

Doug Roscoe, senior property manager of Santa Monica Place, joined Macerich last month.

Roscoe’s background includes having been vice president and director of properties for CenterCal Properties, LLC; senior vice president, asset management for Fashion Island and The Irvine Spectrum Center for the Irvine Retail Company; and vice president and general manager for RREEF Funds, playing a role at the Century City Shopping Center.

“I am so pleased to have the opportunity to run the new Santa Monica Place, which in my mind really will have it all — a perfect location just blocks from the ocean, an exciting retailer mix, plus terrific designs and great amenities,” said Roscoe. “This is absolutely a project to be proud of.”

The project consists of five areas of phasing — Fourth Street (Area A), Second Street (Area B), the Center Court Plaza (Area C), Broadway (Area D) and Colorado Avenue (Area E) — which will all come together at the end of the project.

Macy’s department store, which owns its building, is remaining open and is not part of the reconstruction.

The parking garage on Broadway will be refurbished. The old green panels will be removed and there will be a new exterior treatment consisting of colored horizontal bands of purple Elements Decking — a composite of wood and plastic fibers that is recycled, extremely durable and environmentally friendly — within a sea of gray/green-colored Elements Decking, said Aptaker.

The exterior treatment also includes new stairs wrapped in colored glass horizontal panels, public art and solar panels.

On the inside, a new attendant parking system will be implemented, including ticket booths and gates, pay-on-foot machines, graphics, paint, lighting, new stairs, new elevators and security cameras. The exterior facing Broadway will have new retail units, Aptaker said.

“Santa Monica’s unique mix of casual elegance and social consciousness has made this a beach town unlike any other — it’s formal and informal, urban yet beach,” so we’re designing a shopping environment we believe will strongly appeal to both residents and visitors, with a balance of exciting retail brands,” said Ashley Walkley, Santa Monica Place marketing manager. “Santa Monica Place will cater to this diverse set of customers through a custom-created retail mix and a signature dining experience on our rooftop Dining Deck.”