The Imaginary Landscape

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Westfield Century City--What Could Have Been

As Westfield is set to debut it's new second level, the "alfresco-style dining terrace", and the AMC Century 15 flagship theatre, I think it would be interesting to see what would have happened had the mall never changed hands.

I found some information on www.tract about a proposed expansion plan for the mall by the previous owner, Urban Retail Properties. Some of their proposals were not surprising, like a new AMC. But they also had planned to replace the old Dive restaurant with a new Wolfgang Puck eatery and a TV studio!


Gelson’s Relocation, AMC Movies Galore Planned for Mall

The recent purchase of the Century City Shopping Center by Urban Retail Properties, a group consisting of many of the principals behind the proposed 32 story Century City hi-rise, Constellation Place, has brought about a flurry of activity at the shopping center.

According to the shopping center’s new general manager David R. Froelke, Gelson’s, whose lease has come due, has been working on an agreement with the new owners of the shopping center and apparently will remain. However, to the delight of long suffering Fox Hills residents who complain about noise from delivery trucks, the up-scale supermarket might move to a new mall location.

Urban contemplates building a new structure to house Gelson’s on what Urban management jokingly calls the grassy knoll, the undeveloped section of the shopping center adjacent to Santa Monica Boulevard. Although the new Gelson’s would have approximately the same square footage as the old one, a more efficient design would allow the market to expand its bakery, deli, and floral section without losing any space for the rest of its merchandise. Urban also is considering the long time desire of AMC Theatres to expand. One possible location for new theatres would be above the shops adjacent to AMC and facing Century Park West.

Other Locations
Other possible locations being considered include the space now occupied by Gelson’s as well as the southwest section of the mall, which currently is mostly unoccupied but which once housed Bob’s Big Boy, Hallmark Cards, and Baskin and Robbins.

Still another plan under consideration would house the theatres on the second floor of a new building with retail stores at ground level.

Square Footage
The theatres now occupy 50,000 square feet. With an additional 25,000 square feet added to that total, the number of AMC screens could increase from the current 14 to anywhere from 16 to 21 theatres. The new theatres would feature state of the art sound and projection equipment including digital projection as well as stadium seating.

Wolfgang Puck
In addition, Froelke says, a new and elaborate Wolfgang Puck’s will probably move into the space that was the submarine-shaped Dive restaurant. Puck hopes to create a TV studio on the second floor of the restaurant, where he could give interviews and conduct cooking classes.
Urban also currently is working with consultants on plans aimed at improving walking patterns within the shopping center.

Physical Changes
The plans might require physical changes to some of the shopping center structures and even demolition of others.

Urban would like to demolish the building that houses Gelson’s. If it does, it would move Crate and Barrel and other stores located on the mall level of the Gelson’s building to the old Bob’s Big Boy area. A new building might be constructed in the leveled space for a new department store.
The row of shops where Fox Photo is located could be moved to other housing on the mall to make room for increasing the size of the center court.

In the meantime, Urban has instituted what it believes is an improved valet parking for the shopping center. It says that the time it takes to pick up a car in the valet parking area has been cut down. It also has changed the valet attendants’ uniforms. Valet parkers now wear black slacks, Mandarin shirts, and silk teal blue vests.

One other change already is in place. Under Froelke’s direction, almost every corner of the center has been re-landscaped. Tired looking shrubbery has been given a face lift, and a new flower display has been added. At the entrance to the Gelson’s parking lot, a whole new line of flowers greets customers parking their cars.


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