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After Seeing A Drop Of $54M In Sales, Owners Of Santa Ana's MainPlace Mall Proposing $300M Transformation

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The owner of Santa Ana's MainPlace Mall is proposing a $300M transformation of the property into a mixed-use destination, the latest sign of a shifting retail landscape.

The city of Santa Ana held a workshop Feb. 28 on Centennial Real Estate Co.'s plan to re-entitle and seek approvals for the 1.5M SF mall at 2800 North Main St. to include a 400-room hotel, 750K SF of office space and 1,900 residential units.

Centennial Real Estate Co. is planning a $300M transformation of the MainPlace Mall Santa Ana
Centennial Real Estate Co. is planning a $300M transformation of the MainPlace Mall Santa Ana.

The mall has about 1.1M SF of retail space, according to city documents.

The site is currently entitled for 1.5M SF of commercial retail space, 1.5M SF of office space and a 400-room hotel.

Centennial Real Estate is seeking approvals to halve the entitled office space to 750K SF and add 1,900 residential units, according to city documents.

"Our vision is to create a sense of place, a place for the community of Santa Ana," Centennial Real Estate CEO Steven Levin said during a community meeting last May. "What we plan to do here ... [is] to focus on your lifestyle. Everything you do in your life we plan to collect here at this place. So when you get up, you'll say, 'Let's go to MainPlace. It's got everything.'"

With the rise of e-commerce, Centennial Real Estate's move to re-entitle the mall and shift away from shopping highlights the retail industry's ongoing decline and an effort by owners and landlords to include more experiential mixed-use aspects to draw people in, such as entertainment venues and food halls. 

As part of a JV with Montgomery Street Partners and USAA Real Estate Co. in 2015, Centennial Real Estate acquired the MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana along with four other malls across the nation from Westfield Corp. for $1.1B. 

Levin told the Orange County Register the mall has struggled in recent years. 

From 2016 to 2018, the mall has seen 35 store closures and a $54M drop in gross sales, according to the Register.

Centennial Real Estate Co. is proposing a $300M transformation of MainPlace Mall Santa Ana
Centennial Real Estate Co. wants to create nine development sites around MainPlace Mall Santa Ana.

Levin said he wants to steer away from the current 90% retail makeup and shift the mall's focus to entertainment and food.

“Retail got very boring in the United States and it lost its experience,” Levin told the Register. “Today, entertainment is much broader than what shopping used to be.”

While shopping at retail stores will remain a component of the new mall, it will only take up half of the property.

Levin wants to add local retailers to replace the closed stores, an outdoor plaza where people can gather and listen to music and a "Food Emporium," a type of food hall concept, Levin said during the May community meeting.

City documents show Centennial wants to create nine development sites surrounding the mall. 

Mexico-based KidZania is already looking to move in next to the mall. Apartments, a grocery store, community space and others will fill the parcels around the mall.

"What we're creating is a destination ... that is an amenity for the city and everyone who lives in Santa Ana to have the experience of going to a place they want to go to," Levin told residents.

"This is your mall," he said. "We legally own it but it's really your mall. We want it to be a place that you feel comfortable [with] your kids, your grandkids, your parents, your friends, where you just congregate. It's safe. It's fun and it has everything you want."  

The Santa Ana City Council is expected to vote on the re-entitlement of the mall sometime this summer, according to the Register.