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NEW LOOK FOR MALL PLANNED 'LIFESTYLE CENTER' REVAMP ON THE DRAWING BOARDS.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

VALENCIA - A Valencia Town Center expansion based on the ``lifestyle center'' model, including an extension of Town Center Drive around Santa Clarita Valley's largest mall, is on the drawing board, city officials said Tuesday.

Town Center owners Westfield Group and LNR Property - co-owner of The Newhall Land and Farming Company - have convened informal meetings with city planners over the past few months to map out the mall's future.

``It's really been sort of a roll-up-your-sleeves to see what could happen and what could be developed,'' associate city planner Aimee Schwimmer said. ``What we want to do is to have more of a ``Town Center,'' where we have a street like a Town Center Drive that goes through (and) maybe loop(s) around the existing ring road.''

Both Town Center and city officials were sent back to the drawing board earlier this year after Newhall Land withdrew an existing plan for a 600,000-square-foot expansion, which included pads for two large anchor stores.

But the ongoing consolidation of department stores nationwide - in particular the recent $11 billion takeover of May Department Stores by Macy's owner Federated Department Stores Inc. - has rendered the proposal obsolete.

Planners had hoped Macy's would be one of two potential anchors in the expansion. Instead, the mall's existing Robinsons-May is expected to take on Macy's nameplate in fall 2006. The parties agreed it was better to start over, rather than make more changes.

``We are trying to determine how best to approach the realization of our vision for Valencia Town Center, which will probably be done in a phased manner so we can implement additional office and retail components,'' said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land, original developer of the mall and now an LNR subsidiary involved in the project. ``We hope in the next few months to be able to have something more formal for the city to start that process.''

A Westfield representative said it's too early to discuss the redevelopment process, though Lauffer disclosed the end result will be a master plan for the Town Center property that could include additional office space, stand-alone restaurants and even living space.

``We're looking at a long-range vision - the ultimate build out of the Town Center,'' she said. ``But we recognize that it has to be approached in phases.

``We have to figure out what works for retailers and enhancing the property from a sales tax revenue standpoint for the city, and a convenience standpoint for consumers.''

The Town Center is a key sales tax revenue generator for the city, officials have said. Of the $70.5 million general fund budgeted for the 12 months beginning July 1, about $30.3 million is expected from sales tax.

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 2, 2005
Words:464
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