The old mall, formerly known as Plaza Camino Real, was so 1969 and it is finally undergoing a 4 decade overdue, $300 million makeover to bring it up to the current times and demands of the surrounding sophisticated community and their refined tastes. According to the design plans the intention of the complete renovation is to transform the mall in “Carlsbad into an upscale outdoor lifestyle retail, leisure and dining destination.” Like most malls, any given morning you will see older couples strolling and new mothers with carriages strolling the muted dark hallways of the old mall, a common rainy day walking destination, however in the future you may just see as many umbrellas as strollers (at least during the 40 days a year it rains)!
Connecting the environment and the shopping choices with the surrounding community is the first priority of the redesign goal in attempting to highlight the emphasis on an outdoor lifestyle. The re-design plans include removing the roof and transforming the facility into a lushly landscaped open air mall and featuring themed zone areas called, “Ocean” (with a kelp looking climbing wall for children), “Lagoon”, “Sandbar”, “Wave” and instead of the same boring food court, the new design is more of a Restaurant Row design with garden seating.
The most visible project underway right now are the 24-Hour Fitness Super Sport facility and a “state of the art” luxury Regal Cinema which are slated to open near the end of this year. The massive project is being done in two phases, and a majority of the cosmetic renovations are still in the proposal phase are expected to be reviewed this fall by the Carlsbad Planning Commission.
More than a beautification project for the city of Carlsbad, the mall renovation project is projected to employ more than 1,200 construction jobs and more than 1,000 more long term positions in the new commercial space that will be added upon completion of the project. Even greater are the long term financial benefits of the new Westfield Carlsbad Mall which is anticipated by the city of Carlsbad to bring in an additional $1.2 million annually which will assist in funding police, fire and rescue departments.
All of the newly created spaces for retailers have been eagerly anticipated and may include a virtual reality attraction(s), perhaps a microbrewery, a full service pharmacy, even a grocery store and perhaps a bowling alley-still all just speculation, but exciting nonetheless!
Malls in cities around the US double as entertainment centers and social hubs, but should also reflect the values and needs of the local communities they serve. For example having an amusement park in the mall is appropriate for the chilly state of Minnesota, but when you have weather like we do in Southern California; our amusement parks are not just outdoors but many are right on the ocean (forgive me for bragging a little).
Besides the purpose of actually shopping, malls are for teens to “hang out”, for older couples to get in some healthy strides and new mothers to get some peace and quiet. Malls are also free admission still but if you haven’t noticed- not many teens “hang out” at the old Carlsbad mall anymore, it has become like the school library in summer. Perhaps this renovation will continue to draw all of us “outdoor lifestyle” people into the new outdoor/indoor mall, to take a stroll and explore what’s new and perhaps get a gourmet bite to eat.