Old Torrance Neighborhood Association
MEETING MINUTES - March 16, 2005
Revitalization of Del Amo Fashion Center
7:00 PM - Refreshments served
7:30 PM – Meeting
President Debbie Hays called the Old Torrance Neighborhood Association (OTNA) meeting to order at 7:30 PM and thanked attendees for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. She noted that Del Amo Fashion Center had graciously provided the Torrance Bakery treats.
A brief business meeting commenced, and Debbie invited OTNA’s new Vice President, Trish Stewart, to give a report on the status of volunteers and delivery of OTNA printed materials. Trish thanked all the “Flying Feet” who volunteer to keep neighbors informed about neighborhood issues and asked that anyone interested in delivering OTNA flyers let her know by e-mail or by telephone.
Debbie then invited new Treasurer Mike Peterson to give the Treasurer's Report. Mike stated that if anyone wished to bring their OTNA dues up to date, he would gladly accept them. Otherwise, renewing members can mail checks to him at 2390 Crenshaw Blvd., #717, Torrance, CA 90501. OTNA has $833 in the bank at this time for this year’s projects. Mike indicated that there are a great many things going on in the neighborhood right now. He challenged everyone to talk to neighbors in order to drum up new members and enlist their support in protecting the quality of life in our area. Dayna Berman is helping to make reminder calls about dues.
The president reminded members that OTNA is a non-profit organization that serves the Downtown Torrance neighborhood. It has been active since 1981, a full 24 years. OTNA donates the money the organization collects via annual dues, donations and sponsorships right back into the community, less minimal operating expenses. Last year, OTNA supported Easter in El Prado Park - $175; Southeast Library Homework Center - $100; Operation Teddy Bear - $150; and South Bay Ballet - $50. (Debbie noted that the library needs to raise $55,000 for the Homework Center, and ours was the first contribution they received.)
2005 Sponsor of Easter in El Prado Park
Debbie announced that the Del Amo Fashion Center has generously agreed to sponsor this year’s Easter in El Prado Park on Easter Sunday, March 27, at 10:00 AM. A half-hour event, it will take place at the corner of El Prado and Arlington. This is OTNA's 24th consecutive year of hosting this event. “Mr. Bun” arrives in a bright blue bunnymobile, greets the children, leads them in the Bunny Hop and then lets them gather up all the candy they can.
Torrance Education Foundation Donation
Because the Del Amo sponsorship of Easter in El Prado frees up money for other projects, Debbie stated that the Board would like to donate $100 of it to the Torrance Education Foundation. That organization has been working for more than a decade in our community to enrich the educational experience of our 25,000 students. They will use the money to develop resources and build partnerships needed to conduct programs that otherwise would be unavailable due to limited Torrance Unified School District resources.
Last year, for example, the Torrance Ed Foundation raised more than $225,000 for our schools, administered more than $55,000 in scholarships, awarded over two dozen special teacher grants and sponsored more than a dozen other special programs for our schools.
Michelle Martinez moved, and Sara Guyan seconded, that OTNA donate $100 to the Torrance Education Foundation. Motion carried unanimously.
Debbie announced that the OTNA Board (that means our new computer guru, Mike Peterson) has been working on a Web Site for OTNA. She proposed that a membership vote be taken before OTNA announces it publicly to make sure that everyone is in support of the project. There will be no monthly fees, as PrimeZone Media Network has agreed to donate Web hosting services for OTNA. Mike has agreed to provide his Web development services as an in kind contribution to OTNA.
There is a fee for Network Solutions, Inc. who provides the domain name service. (The system that identifies all Internet sites on a global basis.) That
cost is $101.97 for 3 years, or $34/year. Debbie stated that the new OTNA Web Site name would be oldtorranceneighbors.org.
Liz Fobes moved, and Trish Stewart seconded, that the new OTNA Web Site, oldtorranceneighbors.org, be approved and that OTNA pay for the $102 cost of the domain name service. Motion carried unanimously.
Debbie introduced John Miller and John Gilbert of Torrance Mail Connection, this month’s sponsor of the OTNA mailing expenses. New to the community, the business is located downtown at the corner of Cravens at Marcelina. They offer a variety of goods and services, including packaging and supplies, shipping and receiving (UPS), fax and copy services, private mailbox rentals, basic office supplies and a Notary Public on Saturdays. TMC also has a letter drop box for USPS and they recently started selling stamps at the same price as the post
John Miller thanked OTNA for the opportunity to sponsor the March meeting, with special thanks to Debbie, Dayna and Janet Payne.
In addition, Debbie noted that the Downtown Torrance Branch of Bank of America should be recognized for providing OTNA with ongoing free checking.
Lastly, Debbie announced that the citywide coalition of Homeowner Association Presidents would like to get a reading on Torrance residents’ opinions of how they feel "things" are going in Torrance. For those who have not yet completed one of these surveys, copies are available at the front table.
President Hays introduced Guest Speaker, Kevin Kudlo, to talk about the Revitalization of Del Amo Fashion Center. Kevin is Group Vice President of Development for The Mills Corporation, the new owners of the mall.
Debbie stated that, as Group Vice President, Kevin is responsible for the revitalization of Del Amo Fashion Center and the redevelopment activity for other major projects for The Mills in California and Nevada. At Del Amo, he is responsible for leading the development team and coordinating all design, construction, financing, leasing, and marketing activity as well as coordinating
the transition from a development to an operational project when phased construction is complete.
Prior to Del Amo Fashion Center, he successfully directed development and construction of Arizona Mills in Tempe, Arizona, Katy Mills in the Houston area, and Colorado Mills in Lakewood, Colorado. Before joining The Mills, Kevin was a commercial real estate broker in Southern California. His real estate career also includes serving as Development Manager with Simon Property Group in both Indianapolis and Los Angeles, where he developed four major shopping center projects for Simon, the nation's largest shopping center developer. A native of
Indiana, Kevin holds his CPA designation and earned a degree in accounting from Butler University in Indianapolis.
[The majority of the preceding minutes are based upon a prepared statement provided by President Hays.]
Kevin Kudlo introduced members of The Mills’ community relations company who were assisting with the slide-based presentation, Evelyn Jerome, Melissa Spraul Binford and Jim McDermott, and the on-site Development Coordinator for Del Amo Fashion Center, Bud Hawley. He described them as the lead development team for embarking on a community awareness program, for which this OTNA meeting was the kickoff.
According to Kevin, The Mills Corporation has been in existence for 20 years as a leader in innovative concepts and design incubation. It has 41 shopping centers around the world, including Barcelona, Scotland and Canada. The Mills’ intention is to create relationships with retailers that aren’t already here (in Del Amo Fashion Center.) As a real estate investment trust, or REIT, it believes in building from the ground up. It still owns the first shopping center it acquired.
Background on The Mills Corporation: The Mills Corporation is a self-managed real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Arlington, Virginia that owns, develops, leases, manages and/or markets a portfolio of 39 retail and entertainment destinations totaling approximately 48 million square feet. Currently, the company has six projects under construction or development around the world. The Mills purchased Del Amo Fashion Center in 2003 and began the current revitalization, which is underway to transform Del Amo into a premier shopping and entertainment destination for the 21st century.
[Remainder of slideshow begins with 1961 Groundbreaking Ceremony with photos of Mayor Albert Eisen and 1971 Early Renovation provided by Torrance Historical Society and recent Demolition photo provided by The Mills.]
The Del Amo mall opened in 1961 and was renovated in 1971. This is a picture taken last Friday looking due west. Demolition started at the end of December 2004. All materials from the demolition are recycled, including concrete, rebar, et cetera. The steel of the structure itself is recycled.
Kevin stated that the McDonald’s Court will be the outdoor section of the mall. Buildings being demolished are being taken apart, piece by piece, after being gutted before demolition occurs. Here you will observe the neat piles of recycled materials.
TJ Maxx, that used to be Ohrbach’s, shared some of the same roof components that were shared with the buildings scheduled for demolition. This required precision demolition.
[Slide: Future Del Amo Site]
The place formerly occupied by Montgomery Ward will be replaced by an open-air “lifestyle center.” According to Kevin, people in good climates want to be outdoors in an inviting, energetic and colorful place for people to gather for movies, dinner, shopping and with water features. This slide is an artist’s rendering of what will be (Del Amo mall envisioned for the future.)
At any given time, no fewer than 100 The Mills people are involved in designing the Del Amo project, including signage, colors and size. They concentrate on how to create a project that will be successful. Kevin said that he and Bud were going back to headquarters for their monthly meeting, which will include design presentations. Their goal is to bring new retailers into the South Bay area.
[Color-coded slide of Del Amo mall north of Carson]
This is how it all comes together. The renovated area is portrayed in red, blue is the open-air section and restaurants. There will be two levels, north-south and east-west, that allow passage straight through the mall. The green area denotes parking.
Kevin indicated that the entertainment wing is scheduled to open in May 2006. He said that the multiple phases of the project are scheduled to be completed within two to three years.
If anyone in the community has questions about the Del Amo revitalization project, Kevin encouraged him or her to call Bud Hawley at (310) 750-0400 or e-mail him at Robert.Hawley@themills.com .
Q: Dayna Berman asked if the parking denoted in the green areas closest to Fashion Way were three levels above grade and designed to accommodate 1,200 parking spaces.
A: Kevin answered that 700 parking spaces were located closer to Carson. Parking spaces are provided in response to a city requirement as well as to demands of lenders and tenants. He noted that, of the 135 acres comprising Del Amo mall, half of the property is owned by department stores. For example, both Sears and Macy’s own their own properties. Over all, Del Amo is scheduled for a total of about 10,000 parking spaces.
Q: Sara Guyan stated her concern that Del Amo mall included AMC Theaters that refuse to advertise in the local newspaper, Daily Breeze.
A: Kevin responded that The Mills doesn’t own the theater; it owns the “box.” There are ways to overcome that. We can throw it on the table (during contract negotiations.) Or, we can talk to the General Manager (of AMC), as we already have done before.
Q: Bonnie Mae Barnard asked if the Fashion Way and Carson parking areas included a plan for greenery around the structures.
A: Kevin responded that current plans include a “softening” of the concrete, including landscaping, trellises, screening and stepbacks.
Q: Liz Fobes asked if the exterior parking structure walls might include such softening features as murals.
A: Kevin responded, “yes.”
Q: Bonnie Mae asked if there would be a piggyback process whereby, when the basic design comes forward, the public would be provided the opportunity for input.
A: Kevin suggested that she talk to the city planners. He stated that there would be the usual presentations to City Council, et cetera.
Q: Bonnie Mae stated that she hoped there would be the illusion of open space.
Q: Alice Nicholson asked about what was happening to department stores on the south side of Carson.
A: Kevin stated that there are four major department stores not represented at the mall. The Mills is working to entice them to Del Amo in the next couple of years. He said that he wasn’t sure what was happening with Robinsons-May (R-M) and Federated, the owner of Macy’s who recently acquired R-M. If Federated decides to abandon R-M, it would create an opportunity to bring in a new department store to blend with existing stores. He anticipates having some kind of announcement if that’s the case.
Q: Mary Ann Bradford asked about other kinds of entertainment venues planned for the mall.
A: Kevin responded that mall designers were based in Los Angeles. He described one concept being considered for Del Amo called “Lucky Strike” that involves a bowling alley and sports bar where families can sit down together for events and dinner; a place for kids and adults.
Q: Mary Ann B. suggested that Torrance already had three bowling alleys, and asked who would be responsible for mall security.
A: Kevin answered, “we are.” He indicated that The Mills had doubled security since acquiring the mall. It has a contract with the Torrance Police to provide onsite protection with five police officers on the beat. He said that already has decreased crime by 45 percent since its acquisition of Del Amo mall.
He stated, “We want it to be a family place. We have a Code of Conduct
in place. Security is a tremendous issue with us. We have a police kiosk
on pedestals in open areas when the movies let out, et cetera. He added
that there is security TV in the parking lots, open air spaces and
throughout the mall that is monitored and recorded.
Q: Michelle asked if The Mills still planned to dig a traffic tunnel on Carson
underneath Hawthorne Blvd.
A: Kevin indicated that last year The Mills had approved the lowering of Carson. However, it’s currently on hold.
Q: Sara asked where the new mall bus transit center was to be located.
A: Kevin indicated that The Mills has worked with the city for its relocation.
One of its challenges is that the south side of Carson is owned by
Q: Sara asked if the mall would include a roller-skating rink or a grocery store.
A: Kevin responded that those were not in the plan.
Q: Tom Brewer suggested that the Acapulco restaurant, LA Fitness and
Hometown Buffet area seems to have vacant land. He also asked about
vacant stores in the adjacent buildings.
A: Kevin stated that area of the mall belonged to The Mills. “It’s our project.
We lease and manage it. We’ll continue to lease that (section of the mall.) There are many gyrations and complexities in order to make this a better project.”
Q: Liz asked if the entertainment venues would include something like a
House of Blues.
A: While Kevin indicated that he would personally enjoy such a choice, he
stated that the decision is delegated to the leasing group focused on
Entertainment. The Mills needs to focus on organizations that make a
financial commitment to come to Torrance and what elements attract
Q: An unidentified neighbor asked what new retail stores have committed to
Del Amo mall.
A: Kevin stated that he did not have permission to announce their names in
public. He said he had a lot of Letters of Intent for which leases were
being negotiated. He also announced that The Mills had a “Wall of
Tenants” for the public to view.
Q: Sara asked where the Wall of Tenants could be viewed.
A: Kevin said that it was near Macy’s and Sawtooth.
Q: Kuni Kallenberger asked what traffic problems the mall revitalization
A: Kevin stated that he was researching this with traffic engineers and
considering such things as widening of roads, turning lanes and
computerized traffic controls. “I can’t control some of it,” he said, “such
as the cut-through traffic.” He indicated that the city was conducting an
entire Citywide Traffic Study to determine what intersections are in
Q: Kuni asked if the new mall contributes to traffic congestion during peak
A: Kevin responded that peak commuter traffic occurs before the mall is
Q: John Alter asked what The Mills planned for the area around the Ward’s
A: Kevin replied that The Mills had no plans at present for that area. Last year it was working on a housing component but, right now, Stuart Anderson’s is going to stay.
Q: Sandi Monda asked if there would be any place to park for entertainment other than in the parking structures.
A: Kevin responded that it would be a process of ongoing study.
Q: Paul McCabe asked if The Mills would conduct environmental and energy studies in connection with Del Amo mall.
A: Kevin stated that there is an energy management system to address environmental concerns and to help keep costs down. Throughout the process, there will be neighborhood and public meetings.
Q: Debbie Hays asked that OTNA be included in the mailing list whenever special events are scheduled in connection with the mall.
A: Kevin indicated that this would be done. He stated that anyone else interested in getting on the mailing list can do so at DelAmoToday.com.
Tom Brewer noted that The Mills had donated a $500 gift basket to the Torrance Education Foundation in a fundraiser for Torrance schools. Kevin Kudlo added that the home office in Arlington, Virginia had also purchased a corporate table in the fundraiser. He said that the corporation takes an active role in the community as good corporate citizens.
Q: Jerry Ronin suggested that Arlene Kay has been very active in the
community in this regard.
A: Kevin said that The Mills manager Elayne DeSalvo also has been actively
involved in the community.
At 8:35 PM, President Hays thanked Kevin for his presentation and adjourned the meeting.
Liz Fobes, Secretary
Old Torrance Neighborhood Association