The Sears in downtown Santa Monica is about to undergo a massive transformation designed to turn the long-vacant department store into a vibrant mixed-use hub with office and retail venues.
Seritage Growth Properties, the new owners of the building, are planning to preserve the Art Deco Streamline Moderne façade while redeveloping the site in order to add several office spaces, shops, and cafes and restaurants.
A new look
The Santa Monica Sears sits on approximately three acres, which is considered smaller compared to the average Sears department store. This however, is more than enough space which can potentially be used for future developments such as housing, should the city approve.
While a few changes to the exterior of the historic 1947 building are currently planned, the most drastic changes are ones that will modify the structure’s interiors. The exterior changes planned will mostly work around the building’s existing features. Part of Seritage’s plans is to install skylights and a few façade features to the three-level building’s upper portion.
According to official city records, the architects handling the project are House & Robertson Architects. The redevelopment project entails a seismic retrofit of the structure’s wooden bow-truss roof and the installation of an atrium. Holes will also be cut into the floor plates at the center of the building to allow natural light from the atrium to flow into the basement area.
Attic space between the building’s third floor and the roof will be converted into a fourth floor, while the rooftop will undergo restoration which includes landscaping and installation of a furnished outdoor deck, complete with ocean views. The rooftop area will serve as an amenity for tenants renting office space on the top two floors.
Poised for the future
This particular Sears department store was one of several retail establishments that opened a few years after the events of World War II to take advantage of South California’s booming growth and increasing consumer demand after the war. It was Los Angeles County’s 10th Sears store.
The New York-based Seritage Growth Properties gained ownership of more than 250 Sears and Kmart sites that have potential for redevelopment.
The company acquired control of the establishments back in 2015 in a $2.7-billion deal which involved leasing a number of the establishments back to Sears Holding Corporation, the same owners of Kmart. Reduced sales figures left Sears no other choice but to close down around 200 stores this past year.
Plans to redevelop the building have already been approved by Santa Monica officials, and initial work to hollow out the previous steel and concrete framework is now complete. The building’s ground floor will soon have nine openings that will undergo restoration, as soon as wooden covers are removed from spaces that used to have display windows.
The new design will create a light-filled, airy market space that will hold 32 vendors on the basement and first floor. The west section, which was previously used as a truck unloading area, will be converted into an outdoor space featuring a beer garden.