CARLSBAD — The purge has begun.
Major renovations at The Shoppes at Carlsbad commenced recently as part of Rouse Properties’ plan to revitalize and ignite the North County shopping community.
Although details of the cost were not disclosed, Rouse CEO Brian Harper said the company is investing “several, several, several millions” into the dilapidated building. Rouse was bought by Brookfield Asset Management earlier this year, but operates independently. Rouse is based in New York City.
The project is a multi-phased upgrade and will include streetscaping, new skylights, and updated exterior and interior, floors, ceilings and lighting and gathering spaces inside and outdoors. Renovations are expected to end in fall 2017.
The previous owner, Westfield, announced several years ago a $300 million upgrade to the mall. However, after extending the facility to include a Regal movie theater and 24-Hour Fitness center, the Australian-based company sold the property to Rouse.
Harper, though, was delighted to land the mall, which he said will become a “diamond” in North County.
“We did a lot of consumer intercept studies and what the citizens of Carlsbad wanted to see,” he explained. “We studied the market, looked up and down the coast … and spent a lot of time in San Diego. We really let the beautiful city of Carlsbad inspire us and that’s when the vision popped in to transpire the end result.”
And while construction just began, Harper said Pizza Press opens next month, while Dave & Buster’s opens in January 2017.
Construction efforts, meanwhile, are being performed during off hours as to avoid conflicting stores in operation during business hours. Currently, crews are working on the east interior portion on the south side of the mall.
“The beauty of this is … we bought A-plus real estate with a building already on top of it,” Harper said. “We thought it was just a tremendous opportunity to take something that was neglected into something that creates a lot of value.”
Harper, though, knows the reputation of The Shoppes and it’s why Rouse spent the past 11 months surveying Carlsbad to align its redesign and upgrades to fit with the feel of the city.
“It was a total team effort,” Harper said. “We bought this from them a year ago. In under a year to create new plans and start construction is a monumental feat.”
In addition to the exterior and interior improvements, Harper said Rouse already has more than dozen new tenants lined up and is adding more restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating.
“We are going to embrace the San Diego weather, but the roof will stay on,” he added. “The modern new design aesthetic will really capture the Carlsbad beach-centric lifestyle.”
Included in those plans are native plants, woven textiles, natural stones and a soft color scheme with light white, mitted grays and soft earth tones complimented by sea blue.
Kyle Godat, general manager of The Shoppes, said the new ceiling will be metal with wood-style coloring, while LED lights will be installed to brighten inside. Hard ceilings will replace the old paneling, while the new skylights will introduce much more natural light.
As for the new businesses coming in, Harper declined to specify due to ongoing lease and contract negotiations.
He did say, however, the failure of Measure A did help in landing numerous retailers to The Shoppes and has landed another 10 businesses not associated with the Caruso Affiliated project.
“A lot of retailers that were thinking of going there have signed leases or are about to sign leases with us,” Harper added. “I think it’s a win-win, obviously for us and the community. In my humble opinion, obviously I’m biased, we didn’t need another center. You can make this truly special with a significant investment and a blue-chip sponsored landlord such as ourselves.”
As for attracting consumers, Harper said renovations are centered on creating a family-friendly atmosphere including a water-inspired play surface near JC Penny.
The biggest asset, though, is the Regal movie theater, which he said is the top performing luxury theater in the state. With such a strong draw, Harper said the goal is capitalize with the upgrades to retain those customers.
“I’m really proud of it,” he said. “I think the community and the residents, I hope, are going to be extremely pleased with the result. We wanted to listen to the consumers and our retail partners and give them what they want.”
CORRECTION: A previous edition of this story said the completion date was in 2018. The Shoppes at Carlsbad will be finished in fall 2017.