Plans to transform the Laguna Hills Mall into a mixed-use community will be shared with the community during an upcoming town hall meeting.
Proposed blueprints call for 1,500 residential units, 465,000 square feet of office space, and 250,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space. A hotel and 2.5-acre multipurpose park are also planned for the land, which is owned by Merlone Geier.
“It’s an environment for the community to come eat, drink, hang out with friends,” Stephen Logan, vice president and developer at Merlone Geier, told The Epoch Times. “It’s an all-encompassing place for everybody to be a part of.”
There are many community benefits within the plan, Logan said, including job creation and the incorporation of 200 affordable housing units.
Laguna Hills Mayor Erica Pezold told The Epoch Times that Merlone Geier is asking the city to enter into a development agreement that would provide monetary and nonmonetary public benefits in exchange for a 15-year development agreement term.
Despite the appeal, residents are concerned over how this project will change the city.
“It’s a big controversy right now,” Councilman Laguna Hills Dave Wheeler told The Epoch Times. “One side thinks it’s going to be a burden on the community and the other side thinks we get more housing.”
Laguna Hill resident Dawn Ford said the closing of the mall and redevelopment was unfair for the community.
“They took away our mall,” Ford told The Epoch Times. “It’s mostly where everyone shopped in Laguna Hills, we don’t have other stores.”
She also shared concerns about plans, saying that while she was OK with some housing, the amount being proposed would lead to more traffic and less parking.
Ford and others will have a chance to speak up April 27, when Laguna Hills city council hosts a public hearing. Merlone Geier will be in attendance to present its plan to the council and residents.
The current plans by Merlone Geier were presented to the city in 2019 and have been pending city approval since.