Santa Clarita looks to Irvine model for redeveloped Valencia Town Center

Planners want to create destination on 111 acres that include Centennial-owned mall

Santa Clarita Models Irvine to Revamp Valencia Town Center
Centennial's Michael Platt with the Town Center Specific Plan area (Centennial, Google Maps)

Valencia Town Center could become a great destination for families to live, play and work, not unlike Irvine Spectrum Center in Orange County.

The Irvine mall developed by the Irvine Company could serve as a model for Santa Clarita, whose planners laid out a framework for redevelopment of the Valencia Town Center mall in a Planning Commission meeting on April 16, the Santa Clarita Signal reported.

The 1 million-square-foot indoor mall at 24201 West Valencia Boulevard was purchased by Dallas-based Centennial last fall for $199 million after Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, based in Paris, defaulted on its mortgage loan.

The Texas investor then said it had one goal: to add value by building homes, offices and more businesses at its 53-acre property in north Los Angeles County.

City planners were already hard at work drafting a Town Center Specific Plan — creating flexible guidelines for its redevelopment. The plan’s area extends beyond the mall to cover 111 acres, including City Hall.

Senior Planner Dave Peterson said the city wants to require that commercial and residential development be built in tandem.

He said “making a great place” where a family could live, play and work was as important as having the right mix of commercial tenants. 

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For that, he pointed to the Irvine Spectrum Center, which for nearly three decades has evolved into a Moroccan-style retail magnet that now includes a Nordstrom, Ferris wheel, 21-screen cinema, Improv Comedy Club and around 130 shops and restaurants, in addition to two office towers.

One of the appeals of the Irvine Spectrum Center, Peterson said, is that you can read a book in one of the grassy areas and not realize the 5 Freeway is a few hundred feet away, because of the intentionality of the center’s design. 

“What that defines is the experience of the place,” Peterson said, referring to the fact that people said they just like to go there. “And that is the kind of thing that the Town Center Specific Plan is aiming for.” 

The city’s specific plan calls for the city to “strongly encourage” the developer to include 2,200 homes, of which 440 would be set aside as affordable housing for households earning less than 80 percent of area median income. 

At the same time, planners pondered the possible demolition of portions of the mall, including its food court, JC Penney store and “the Sears box,” while adding a hotel and convention center on the south side.

Michael Platt, executive vice president of mixed-use development at Centennial, said the company would wait until the city finished its Town Center Specific Plan before laying out its plans. He praised the city for its “forward-thinking” and “holistic” initiative.

— Dana Bartholomew

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