Redondo Beach’s South Bay Galleria mall is likely losing its anchor store, Nordstrom, Inc. to neighboring Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance at the end of store’s lease in 2015.
In response, Redondo Beach officials filed a request for an injunction with the Los Angeles Superior Court, citing environmental and city code violations, alleging that the City of Torrance has not gone through the proper procedures for the scale of new development planned for the north end of the mall.
The Del Amo Fashion Center, managed by Simon Property Group, attracted the high-end department store as part of a larger redevelopment that will commence in 2013. The planned renovations are intended to transform the mall into what Simon Property President David Contis hopes will be one of the nation’s most successful malls.
“We’re thrilled Nordstrom will join Del Amo Fashion Center,” Contis said. “Their arrival highlights our efforts to further enhance the property’s retail cache…The addition of Nordstrom is a key piece of our plan at Del Amo to bring the best retailers to our already impressive line-up of anchor and specialty stores, including many new luxury retailers.”
The South Bay Galleria currently does not have any plans for Nordstrom’s replacement.
“We’ve had a fine relationship with them for 30 years,” said South Bay Galleria Regional Marketing Director Mickey Marraffino. “We’re disappointed in the decision, but it also opens up opportunities for us.”
Nordstrom said that relocating would allow the company to build a brand new store featuring the latest design concepts. The new store would be 138,000 sq. ft. – smaller than its current 161,000 sq. ft. store at the Galleria – and is planned to open in 2015.
“We feel fortunate that we’ve been able to serve South Bay for nearly 30 years and are excited about this chance to bring a better store to our loyal customers here,” said Erik Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom, Inc. “While we’re grateful for the business we’ve been able to do at South Bay Galleria over the years, we feel relocating gives us our best chance to deliver a more compelling shopping experience.”
The lawsuit challenges the city’s minor modification permit allowing the construction of a new 1,800-space parking structure and replacement of a portion of the north wing. It alleges that the city did not properly determine possible environmental impacts and abused California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) procedures. It also alleges that the city failed to hold sufficient public hearings regarding the modification.
Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb said that the scale of the redevelopment the Simon group has planned is not consistent with the minor modification permit they have filed. “[The lawsuit] is just to make certain that everybody is following the law,” said Webb. “We don’t believe they followed the appropriate CEQA guidelines.”
The lawsuit alleges that in Feb. 2012 Thomas Schneider, the executive vice president of Simon Property Group, told the Torrance City Council of plans to undertake the development “piece-by-piece” and Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto told the public that the community’s questions about the development would be addressed through a series of community meetings. No such meetings have occurred and on Oct. 31 the Community Development Director Jeffrey Giyon approved the permit and determined that the minor modification permit would not have a significant effect on the environment.
Redondo Beach councilmember Steve Diels said that he would be surprised if the council votes to pursue the lawsuit, but the City Attorney Mike Webb did the proper judicial thing to file it. However according to Webb, the council, in the Diels’ absence, publicly reported that there was unanimous support to file and go forward with the lawsuit.
Redondo Beach Councilmember Steve Diels said the city’s lawsuit, which was filed Monday only hours after Nordstrom’s announcement that its Redondo Beach store would be moved to Torrance, was filed only as a precautionary measure.
“The lawsuit was filed in an abundance of caution to preserve the opportunity that would have expired prior to the council’s ability to meet and conifer on the issue,” said Diels.
Webb said the Monday was the deadline to file suit, 30 days after the Simon Group filed its development plans.
Diels expressed optimism that a new tenant for the site would be found.
“The only thing that’s constant in the world is change, and sustainability is unreal,” said Diels. “We always have to be prepared to react to changes. We’ve worked hard to keep [Nordstrom’s] but that’s not to be and so we’ll have to find some alternative. This is a fabulous site… I look forward to the opportunities in the future.” ER