Thursday, October 2, 2008

La Cumbre Plaza facelift continues

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

With changes to La Cumbre Plaza starting to take form, development officials met with community and business leaders yesterday morning to showcase their vision for touching up one of Santa Barbara’s original shopping centers.
A focus is being placed on landscaping and pedestrian-friendly architecture to create a larger sense of openness, said Chuck Davis, vice president of development for Macerich, owner and operator of the center. The goal: to get rid of the “mall look.”

“Our tenants were kind of getting buried,” he said.
Originally built in the mid-60s, the shopping center was largely centered on the automobile, Davis said. While still intimate and charming, he said the plaza was in dire need of a little facelift with the walking public in mind.
“We saw the opportunity when we purchased it to improve upon the original,” he said.
In addition to removing columns and canopies to give buildings a more modern touch, Davis said installing new fountains and gathering places will afford customers a place to take a break and add to what he described as the “plaza experience.”
Officials said a positive response to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Tiffany & Co. — along with several other new retailers that have moved into newly revamped locations at the upper State Street shopping center — has paved the way for the remaining areas to undergo the update.
Williams-Sonoma is currently in the process of expanding its store, complete with red-tiled roofs, while Louis Vuitton and BCBG Max Azria should be opening soon.
“We’ve had a vision of bringing first-to-market retailers to this area,” said Michael Guerin, assistant vice president of leasing.
Nine stores new to Santa Barbara have set up shop at La Cumbre Plaza since Macerich took over the center in 2004, he said. Nonetheless, the 500,000 square feet of leased space will remain anchored by Sears, Macy’s and a group of longtime tenants.
“They are announcing a few new tenants, but it’s primarily the same shops that are staying here, and it’s important to have that continuity,” City Councilmember Grant House said.
Among changes to come in the next year is an extended dining area at the western end of the plaza and a “tranquility garden” near the entrance to Macy’s.
Davis said a landscaped walkway through the parking lot to connect the main plaza with the annex building to the north is also in the cards.
“It looks like a strip center,” he said of the annex, which includes Vons, Lenscrafters and other businesses. “It will not look like a strip center anymore.”
Trellises, new lighting and redesigned gathering areas will help bring that area of the shopping center to life, Davis said.
“Everything has a chance to be a sort of mini-flagship store,” he said. “…We think it’s a really interesting mix.”

6 comments:

allegro805 said...

"a little facelift with the walking public in mind"

The walking public? Except almost everyone has to drive to get there, right?


"Everything has a chance to be a sort of mini-flagship store"

Does that even make any sense? Mini-flagship?


I'll admit the plaza looks nicer, but it's becoming such an upscale Rodeo-Drive-North. At least the economy must be good enough to allow some people to continue to buy Tiffany baubles, right?

Is it true that Sears is a thorn in management's side because there's no way to make it go away? I've heard rumors Sears owns their building?

theaverageman said...

Yeah, "a really interesting mix" of shops nobody can afford. Is this just mall for Hope Ranch now? guess so. But with their stock portfolios dropping, maybe that wasn't the best plan.

LaCumbre has become useless to our family. Bring back Ritz camera! Bring back Hallmark!

Anonymous said...

I love the look and feel at that mall.

Anonymous said...

The walking public? Who within walking distance can afford these upscale stores? Planners have not done their homework.

Anonymous said...

It's a concrete park with a gallery of windows so you can look at precious pieces. A few more fountains and some real grass would be nice.

Anonymous said...

I can walk to La Cumbre and shop there too. I love Ruth's Chris. Finally a real quality restaurant in this hick town.