Shoppers leave the Macy's at Santa Monica Place on Thursday. The opening of the new and improved Santa Monica Place could be pushed back several months as developers consider timing the completion of the mall to coincide with the transformation of MacyÕs to BloomingdaleÕs. (photo by Byron Kennerly)

DOWNTOWN — The opening of the new and improved Santa Monica Place could be pushed back several months as developers consider timing the completion of the mall to coincide with the transformation of Macy’s to Bloomingdale’s.

The reason for the possible schedule change is to ensure that one of the two anchor tenants — Nordstrom and a SoHo-themed Bloomingdale’s — would also be open when the reconstruction of the mall is completed, said Bob Aptaker, the vice president of development for Macerich Co., one of the largest developers of shopping malls in the country and the owner of Santa Monica Place.

Santa Monica Place is currently slated for a fall 2009 reopening while Bloomingdale’s is expected to come to life the following spring. Macy’s, which occupies the space, is currently going through a clearance sale. A closing date was not available.

Nordstrom is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

A representative with Macy’s Inc., the parent company of Bloomingdale’s, did not respond to a request seeking comment.

The delay in opening could cost City Hall more in terms of sales tax revenues lost. The mall generated about $1 million a year in sales taxes before it closed and is anticipated to bring in about $2 million when it reopens.

The postponement has been accounted into the budget planning for 2009-10, according to David Carr, a principal budget analyst for City Hall.

The schematic design for the upscale department store, which is located on the northwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Fourth Street, was recently reviewed by the Planning Commission, which suggested that the building have an open feel and better engage pedestrians, two attributes that many believe the current nondescript and windowless structure, lack.

“That corner … is currently a terrible corner,” Planning Commissioner Chairman Terry O’Day said. “It created a physical barrier between Downtown and the Civic Center.”

He pointed out that the corner poses a lot of potential for more pedestrian traffic with the anticipated Exposition Light Rail coming to a stop across the street.

“When the Expo line opens and the station is catty corner, you will have 200 to 400 visitors every five minutes exiting the station,” O’Day said. “It will be the central point of entry to Santa Monica.”

The proposed designs for Bloomingdale’s show a three-story modern and sleek structure, covered in a transparent glass facade with display windows and a sequin-like layer on the exterior.

The remodel of the 1980s-era building, which is owned by Macerich, will be paid for by Macy’s Inc.

“The corner of the building … will be very dramatic and will really respect that corner and reflect the transit stop, which is such an important element of the city of Santa Monica,” Aptaker said. “It’s also a gateway location of Santa Monica — as you’re coming down into Santa Monica from the 10 Freeway, that building is one of the first things you see.”

Aptaker said the goal was to design a department store that would enliven the corner and interact with that side of the mall.

It’s the same approach that architects have taken with the redesign of Santa Monica Place.

“We were really trying to have the mall fit in with the urban fabric of the city,” Aptaker said. “We want each entrance to have its own individual expression and reflect the community or the area in which it resides.”

He added that the Second Street frontage will have a beach influence while the Broadway side of the mall will reflect the Third Street Promenade.

The Bloomingdale’s in Santa Monica will be a slight departure from its other stores across the country, tailoring its merchandise to the local market. The store will also lack a home goods section.

The building will remain three stories but the top level will be reserved for Santa Monica Place operations.

Designs for Nordstrom have not been finalized.

The 1980s mall, which was designed by Frank Gehry, has been under construction since last spring.

The project includes tearing the roof off of the shopping center’s central spine, making way for an open-air walkway and rooftop dining deck, providing shoppers with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.


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