The new owners of the financially troubled Simi Valley Town Center shopping mall have gone through more than 50 drafts of plans to revitalize the property and are moving close to announcing their strategy.
That was the word from Brian Gabler, Simi Valley’s director of economic development, who spoke at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast gathering Tuesday at Lost Canyons Golf club.
The shopping mall formerly owned by Forest City Enterprises was taken over by the lender in 2010 and sold. Gabler, who is also Simi Valley’s assistant city manager, said there are many vacancies at the mall but quite a few of them are deliberate, giving the owners flexibility to move tenants and make changes. He said he expects that there will be eight to nine months of construction involved in the overhaul.
Gabler said the owners, Chicago-based Walton Street Capital and Alberta Development Partners in Denver, are aiming for the summer of 2014 or possibly December of that year to complete the makeover. The mall owners have said little publicly about how the space will be transformed. Among their stated objectives are creating a large public gathering space, improved landscaping and amenities and attracting at least one more anchor store.
Gabler’s overall message was that things are looking up both nationally and for Simi Valley in a gradual recovery from the recession.
He said Simi Valley’s retail vacancy rate remained generally flat at around 7.3 percent this year. Among the new retailers and offices to move to the city in 2012 are a CVS store, a Cost Plus World Market outlet, three Chase Bank branches and a Walmart under construction at the site of a former Mervyn’s store.
Gabler said the city’s industrial space vacancy rate in 2012 was 6.5 percent and the office vacancy rate was 6.8 percent. The city’s office available rate of 18.9 percent was skewed by Farmer’s Insurance
Group’s decision to move its workers from Simi Valley to Warner Center in Woodland Hills and to its headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Gabler said Farmer’s holds a lease on the six-story building in Simi Valley until 2017 and is marketing subleases on the property.