Now that all Valencia Town Center signs have had a Westfield-otomy at the local mall, questions and some optimism have already started forming, according to local business owners.
One of the first things the city of Santa Clarita did when it learned its biggest sales-tax revenue generator might get sold was to have its planners start outreach on developing ideas to inform the next owner on what the community would like to see there.
The first meeting for the Town Center Specific Plan, which was back in April, saw more than 100 residents filter through Santa Clarita City Hall with feedback, according to Jason Crawford, community development director for Santa Clarita. The city also sent out surveys to area businesses.
The $199 million sale of the Valencia Town Center announced Tuesday included 15 parcels, which is most of the buildings known as the mall, but not all of them, according to Centennial Chief Investment Officer Carl Tash.
The area the city identified for its “town center” covers a number of properties, including the mall, the former site of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, the Valencia Library and the courthouse, the Regal movie theater and Town Center Drive.
The sale of the Valencia Town Center included 15 parcels, with the purchase including the land bordered to the east by Citrus Street, McBean Parkway to the west, Valencia Boulevard to the south, and then Magic Mountain Parkway to the north, but not every property in between, according to Centennial, and a map provided by developers.
Not included in the outlined map of the sale area is the parking structure bordered by Magic Mountain Parkway, north of Town Center Drive, and the adjacent office building that serves as Princess Cruises’ headquarters. The building occupied by Black and Blue at 24300 Town Center Drive is also not part of the transaction, nor its adjacent parking structure on McBean Parkway.
The city has a vested interest in the town center area as a property owner as well. The Valencia Library is included in the Town Center Area Plan, but not the Centennial property. The mall-adjacent property the city owns is “the small parking lot just north of the Bank of America building and south of the Fire Station,” according to city officials.
Crawford described the news of the sale, which had been anticipated for months, as “promising” in a phone interview Thursday.
“What is promising is it sounds like they not only are buying the mall but also wanting to invest in it,” Crawford said. “We have not had a chance to sit down with them and hear what their plan is … but I would hope to do that sometime soon.”
The city is still working with consultants on what its plan or vision might look like, he said.
The expectation for the plan is that something would be brought back to the public in the fall, sharing what’s been collected so far and asking for one more round of feedback, and then putting something together for the Planning Commission and then City Council to review, likely by next year.
In terms of timelines, Centennial has yet to announce a new name for the project, and Tash said a realistic timeline was 18 to 24 months for shovels to go into the ground on planned renovations.
He said Centennial planned to take the lead on the project but wanted to hear what the community had to say about what it wants to see there, with a mix of residential and retail planned. Tash also praised the structures and buildings surrounding the property they purchased as providing a great setting for the “mixed-use campus” Centennial is planning.
David Guenther, owner of J. David’s Custom Clothiers, said from what he’s seen on Centennial’s website, he’s encouraged.
“And the thing for me is that the local community of Santa Clarita is an amazing community of people, and they will absolutely support the Valencia Town Center, or a major project of that size, but they want to have a warm feeling about going there,” he said.
Guenther has been a business owner in the community for decades, and recalled a marked change after Westfield sold the property to a company based overseas, he added.
Some of the tenants started to feel as though they were just a part of a balance sheet, he said. There hadn’t been any significant changes or improvements since the talk of a $100 million Costco-gym-luxury theater renovation Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield first mentioned in 2019. That plan was ultimately scuttled.
The mall has needed an entity to come in and step up for years, he said.
“And I actually think that Centennial has the potential to be that rescuer,” he said.
“We need the entire corner to be incredible,” he added, referring to The Shops at The Patios where his store is located, “and I’m really looking forward to it.”