Laguna Hills Mall to Be Renovated

Merlone Geier Partners will be renovating Laguna Hills Mall, the more-than 40-year-old Southern California retail center located less than 15 miles away from world class shopping destinations South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island.

The developer, which maintains offices in San Francisco and San Diego, submitted renovation plans to the city of Laguna Hills last month and hopes to break ground on renovation in 2014, said Jeremy Meredith, Laguna Hills Mall’s project manager.

Current renovation plans include developing a high-end theater and a fitness center, which would call for demolishing under half of the mall’s leasable area. The mall was built in 1972 and is anchored by a Macy’s, JCPenney and Sears.

New developments also call for the creation of an open-air shopping area lined with boutiques and restaurants, Meredith said. “We’re turning the mall inside out,” he said. “We’re looking for this to become a new main street for the area.” The retail center currently serves the well-off retirement community of Laguna Woods Village. It also serves workers and staff from the nearby Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

The proposed open-air area would be located on the western side of the mall, facing El Toro Road. The new section’s look will have a contemporary, Moorish style. The interior of the mall will be redesigned, and will mesh with the new exterior. Long Beach, Calif.–based architecture firm Perkowitz + Ruth will be working on the project, Meredith said.