Westfield Valencia Town Center officials announced a $100-million investment Wednesday to add features, including a new Costco, luxury cinema and fitness center, dramatically transforming the site of one of the mall’s original anchor stores.
The Patios Connection project is a redevelopment of the eastern portion of the property where the former Sears location, which closed a year ago, will transform into a larger building and center for these new amenities that aim to build on the mall’s vision of creating a one-stop destination for consumers.
“We believe the project speaks to the changing retail landscape and complements the center’s existing offerings by adding additional daily conveniences that allow families to shop, work out, run errands, be entertained and socialize all in one place,” said Corrine Barchanowicz, senior general manager of Westfield Valencia Town Center. “We are strategically investing in the center in new ways that create a diversified and elevated shopping and entertainment experience.”
Mall officials Wednesday shared with The Signal renderings that depict the project’s core design, aimed at improving the center’s overall flow and connectivity.
The anchor of the project is the Santa Clarita Valley’s second Costco retail and gas station, which will be located on the lower level of the proposed new building, according to Chris Kitchen, vice president of development for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. This locale will be uniquely designed to seamlessly blend with the rest of the Valencia Town Center, officials said.
“Westfield submitted the application, but it still has a process to go through,” said Jason Crawford, manager of economic development for the city of Santa Clarita, adding that the plans would likely be reviewed by the Planning Commission at a public hearing before the end of the year.
“It’ll go through a process where everything will be analyzed with a high emphasis on traffic and parking,” he added.
While Crawford emphasized there would still be the usual series of reviews and plans for any project or proposal to look at the potential site for the big-box retailer, a new gym, a luxury theater-restaurant and more, Santa Clarita officials would have plenty to talk about, in addition to the 320 new parking spots near City Hall that are expected to be built as part of the project.
The plans will also be a boon to the local economy, in terms of jobs and revenue, a fact not lost on the city’s planners and managers.
“Adding in more movie theaters, potentially more restaurants, creating more additional parking for (Shops at) The Patios, I think, are all positives,” Crawford said. “We’ve heard for a long time that the community has wanted a second Costco.”
The $100 million proposal, dubbed The Patios Connection, expects to create an additional 486 full-time jobs through direct and indirect impact, as well as generate more than $6 million in revenue to city coffers.
This follows on the heels of a $20 million renovation for the Westfield Valencia Town Center, which houses approximately 180 businesses, and is considered the city’s second largest economic generator, with more than 1,000 jobs associated with operations.
Kitchen said the idea to bring in a new Costco had been in the works long before Sears closed, with multiple properties as options, but the mall location flowed with a trend that’s evident across multiple Westfield locations, including The Village at Topanga, which also connects mall shoppers to a Costco.
Costco’s first location in the Santa Clarita Valley was opened in May 1992, and it’s been a popular location ever since for the publicly traded big-box retail giant. The second location gives the store’s fans on the West side much easier access, and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield expect the popularity of the store, as well as several other planned amenities within the proposal will provide even more reasons for shoppers to identify with the mall as the destination for their shopping needs in the SCV, as well as other desires, everything from as healthy activity to relaxation.
“Costco is the new anchor today; it’s such a fundamental aspect of the shopping experience,” Kitchen said. “With busy family and kids, getting your errands at multiple locations is a drag. What we tried to do with our properties and The Patios Connection is combine multiple anchors. In this case it’s the luxury cinema, the fitness center and Costco so that you can come and do your errands, be entertained and work out all in one trip.”
To address a potential increase in traffic congestion that can come with the new development, Kitchen said officials have been working closely to evaluate reports with traffic engineers and the city of Santa Clarita. A 320-space parking lot to mitigate parking congestion is also in the project plans.
The second floor of the Sears replacement building will house the cinema and the full-service health and fitness center to easily stream into the shops and retail at The Patios level. Cinema and gym tenants are still in the works, said Kitchen, but patrons can expect an upscale setting.
“We’re bringing in a new theater and it’s going to be a higher-end cinema than anything we’ve seen in the Santa Clarita Valley today with large recliner seats (and) better food offering,” said Kitchen. “It’s not as large as the Edwards (theater), but we have seen and know that the market will support another theater.”
Much planning is still underway for the project, but officials estimate The Patios Connection development to be completed by mid- to late-2020.
“Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has seen tremendous success with the addition of Costco to other high-end centers in both California and Maryland,” said Chris Kitchen, vice president of development for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “We recently conducted a survey at The Village at Topanga, which showed 55 percent of Costco shoppers also visited at least one other destination within the center on the same trip. Today’s shoppers are looking for everyday conveniences in one location.”