A possible future for “the mall”

ILLUSTRATIVE MAP of draft Westminster Mall specific plan (City of Westminster).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

Once the biggest and most prosperous enclosed shopping center in Orange County, Westminster Mall has declined to the point where its drooping sales tax revenue is weighing on the city treasury and a stroll through its halls is a journey down corridors of empty, dark, silent storefronts.

Six years ago, city officials began the process of trying to turn the fortunes of the 100-acre center at Bolsa Avenue and Goldenwest Street around. Six years and nearly that many city managers – not to mention a worldwide coronavirus epidemic – later, wraps are finally coming off the distilled concept for the center in the form of the Westminster Mall Specific Plan.

The plan is not likely to be turned into reality in every detail, but it represents a step forward toward turning that freeway-close development into a potentially lucrative asset.

There are challenges. As the report states, “the project site provides a unique opportunity to reposition the mall into the thriving activity it once was and to accommodate the future growth of the city.”

But – as was also pointed out – “the site is owned by five different owners” whose interests and needs may not match the others. Additionally, the Mall is located one freeway offramp away from its principal competitor, Huntington Beach’s Bella Terra, itself a former enclosed mall modernized into an open-air mixed use center with many restaurants and shops, a large movie complex and anchors such as Costco, Kohls and Barnes & Noble.

The vision for the “new” mall is seen as evolving into an open-air mixed use center. Here’s a summary:

  • Most of the “edge” along Edwards Street on the west would be for mid-rise residential, three to four stories high, elevated “at grade” with a landscaped parkway.
  • Also most of the center facing Bolsa Avenue would be for retail as a priority use. The second priority would be for residential, hotel and office space with heights similar to Edwards Street.
  • The triangle along the San Diego (405) Freeway would have a retail core with building heights up to 10 stories high. Residential uses would be “buffered” from the freeway,” when “feasible.”
  • Additionally, the plan calls for interior streets, a neighborhood park and an “iconic” entry architecture.
  • The “retail core” could preserve some of the existing footprint with certain anchor stores as well as residential, office, hotel and entertainment uses up to 10 stories high.

A community workshop is scheduled for Sept. 22 at the Community Services building in the civic center, 8200 Westminster Blvd.

For a closer look at the proposed specific plan, go to: https://www.westminster-ca.gov/departments/community-development/planning-division/specific-plans/westminster-mall-specific-plan .

Categories: Westminster

6 replies »

  1. Yes please, go for it, it’s better than what’s going on now, yes, make it thrive again!! Well needed! God bless!!

  2. Something is better than nothing but some glaring questions. First off, where’s the free parking structure?Unless this will become a closed community to those living in the new homes and offices, it has to be accessible to everyone. The current parking lots are being converted to green space which is good but I do not see alternative parking. Secondly, a hotel in that corner would attract guests from where and for what? It is too far from other attractions.

    I would actually suggest incorporating a food court with popular vendors and an area to lounge under a shaded area similar to Rodeo 39. It would be best to invite vendors that people have to travel to get to such as Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Baejeong, and Mama Lu. I would not mind a Trader Joes in that area either. Foodies like me would crowd over immediately.

  3. They are better off going the direction the old Laguna Hills Mall property is going. The property is worth a lot more money now. Housing for more Taxpayers.
    In the next few years Amazon will have complete control 😆
    No more Malls.

  4. Having lived close to the mall I thought after closing this space it would be the site for a new hospital. Hoag and Provedence split. USC Keck moved in next to Hoag.UCI and Hope building new in Irvine. UCI Douglas is the only trauma center in OC. Fountain Valley Hospital will eventually drop dead. Huntington keeps changing. Where is UCLA? This area needs one

  5. No keep the mall, remodel it, no more expensive housing. People need to quit being lazy and actually going out and getting some air from shopping not being slaves to convenience.

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