San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Homeowners Hear Westfield's Promenade Plan

By Carol Lawrence Thursday, March 23, 2017

It was standing room only in a small auditorium at Kaiser Permanente’s medical center in Woodland Hills Wednesday night for a presentation on a mixed-use project expected to transform the Warner Center area.

Larry Green, senior vice president of U.S. development for Westfield Corp. in Century City, talked to members of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization Inc. and others about how the shopping center developer plans to transform the Warner Center area into a single, cohesive live/work/play environment.

The Promenade 2035 project, which is not yet entitled, would replace the Westfield Promenade shopping mall at Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Oxnard Street. Green emphasized how the project aligns with the vision of the community’s new land use and planning guide for the area, the Warner Center 2035 Plan. That plan divides up the 1.7 square miles surrounding the center into a connection of varying corridors with different land uses. Promenade 2035, Green added, is within the downtown corridor that allows for the most dense and high-rise development.

As such, he said, that Westfield project didn’t require them to seek any plan or General Plan amendments, changes or variances.

The 35-acre Promenade 2035 would include 1,400 one-, two- and three-bedroom “luxury villas,” plus 244,000 square feet of retail space that will include grocery stores, drug stores and dry cleaners. There would also be 150,000 square feet of creative office space and 470,000 square feet of Class A office space, Green said. The two hotels would cater to different clientele, with one having 272 rooms offering limited service and the other with 300 rooms offering typical amenities. Plans also include a 15,000-seat entertainment/sports center, Green added.

The project will develop 10 acres or so of open space with 500 trees divided between a park for the public and one for those living there. Parking for everyone would include 2,700 spaces in structures.

“The intent is to really screen those garages,” Green said.

It would all be walkable by connectors, Green added. Westfield currently runs a shuttle around the Warner Center area. Westfield also plans to build inner streets that divide the large street blocks within the center area into smaller-scale ones more easily walked.

“It’s a big investment,” Green said. The project is estimated at $1.5 billion.

For now, Westfield is in “listening” mode to hear what the community wants, Green told attendees at the meeting. He received an earful of concerns about traffic, the lack of affordable housing, the number of apartments and residential units already planned and being built for the Warner Center area, whether or not the entertainment center could be filled, its size and its parking, and how to attract people to an outdoor environment when the Valley hits 110 degrees.

Regarding potential traffic issues, Green said improvements to local streets and infrastructure is intended under the Warner Center plan. Also, Westfield plans to add driving lanes and at least two traffic signals, he added.

The Warner Center Neighborhood Council has set up an ad-hoc committee that meets monthly specially focused on the project.

Green said Westfield expects to go before the city of L.A.’s Planning Commission and City Council by the end of the year. But, he emphasized, the actual development of the entire project would be in stages depending on market demand. It would possibly break ground in 2020 and the initial phase would be finished by 2021.

Shirley Greene, a Woodland Hills resident, said she supported the project. She sees lots of people visit the newer and open-mall Village at Westfield Topanga who sit and chat with one another.

“They (Westfield) are trying to make Woodland Hills a major city,” Greene said. ‘They’re not building in the parks and on the hills or the trails. That’s not going to be touched.”