February 23, 2006
Mall officially announces renovations
By Nathan Halverson
FAIRFIELD - The Westfield Solano mall rolled out the red carpet to officially announce its multi-million dollar renovation project on Wednesday morning.
With the Vacaville Christian School Radio Jazz Band serenading guests such as Mayor Harry Price and City Manager Kevin O'Rourke, mall officials unveiled their vision for the future.
Officials with Westfield Corp., which owns the 25-year-old mall, plan to fully renovate the 1-million-square-foot shopping center. The changes will incorporate four local themes into the renovation: Flight, fairgrounds, vineyards and markets. Each quadrant of the mall will have one of the themes and a correlating color scheme.
The center court will have a fifth theme, celebrating the history and people of Solano County.
Renovations are targeted to be complete by fall, according to mall officials. All stores will remain open during construction as shoppers will be detoured around renovation areas.
The project, which intends to create a more classy feel, demonstrates that mall executives believe Fairfield can sustain a higher-end mall, Price said.
City councilman Jack Batson noted the city of Fairfield was losing some tax revenue from its commuter residents who can shop where they work. The renovated mall might be able to lure some of those shoppers back to their hometown before opening their wallets.
"(Westfield officials) know there is an untapped market that is shopping somewhere else," Batson said.
In addition, 24-Hour Fitness has proposed building a new club on the site of the former Solano Mall Cinema 6, which is now vacant. The club would be about 21,000 square feet and would include a swimming pool, according to plans filed with the city.
Under this proposal, the former cinema would be torn down. The Fairfield Planning Commission will hear the proposal on March 8.
When the Westfield Solano renovations were first reported in December, Patrice Duker, a spokeswoman with New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers, had said mall redevelopments were a growing trend in the industry.
"If there is one trend we've seen in 2005, it's seeing reinvestments by owners and developers in their existing malls," she said, adding new mall construction was down.
Increased competition is the driving factor behind the renovations, she said.
Westfield will move forward with expanding the mall when the renovations are complete.
"That's down the road. We don't have any timeline for that yet," said Monty Stephens, the mall's general manager.
But he did say plans for a car wash were in the works, adding that on-site car washes were a popular concept in Southern California.
Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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