Santa Monica Place, owned by The Macerich Company, is expected to have a ground-breaking ceremony in March for the redevelopment of the traditional enclosed mall into a modern open-air retail and dining destination in downtown Santa Monica.

The mall opened in 1980 and was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

An interactive 3-D video and renderings of the proposed project were unveiled at a Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce mixer Wednesday, February 6th, in the Center Court patio area of the mall, recently closed for construction.

Santa Monica Place closed officially on January 31st, but Macy’s department store will remain open during the construction, said Macerich officials.

While the project was approved on September 11th by the Santa Monica City Council and the Redevelopment Agency, some permit approvals are still pending, but construction is expected to begin in the spring, said Santa Monica Place marketing manager Ashley Walkley.

The redevelopment project is to include an open-air dining area on the third floor of the mall and most of the roof of the mall is to be removed to create “an open-air extension of and strong synergy with” the Third Street Promenade, Walkley said.

The new mall will bring “a dynamic new world-class shopping environment to Santa Monica with shops and amenities to rival the region’s most successful shopping destinations, such as Beverly Hills and Marina del Rey,” said Walkley.

During construction, parking for Macy’s will be available in city Parking Structure 8 at Second Street and Colorado Avenue, and entrance to the department store will be from Second Street.

Parking Structure 7 will also remain open to the public during construction.

The new Santa Monica Place, when completed, will feature open-air walkways that connect to the nearby Third Street Promenade, a rooftop public dining deck, a new central plaza, innovative architectural design and landscaping matched to the project’s setting two blocks from the ocean, and a fresh mix of retail and dining options, said consultant Molly Bowler.

Customers may use Santa Monica Place gift cards at any Macerich shopping center, including Westside Pavilion at 10800 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles, or anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, Bowler said.

Customers who may still hold paper gift certificates to Santa Monica Place should sign and mail the certificates to the address on the back of the certificate for a refund, being sure to make photocopies for their records.

Customers may call (310) 394-1049 for information about nearby locations of Santa Monica Place retailers.

The Web site has more details on gift cards, access to Macy’s, and construction updates on the new shopping center being created at Santa Monica Place, including a 3-D video preview of the new design, Bowler said.

Information, www.SantaMoni