Sitting vacant since April, the Art Deco Santa Monica Sears store landmark is about to receive new life. With a $50 million makeover, the building that once housed down-to-earth general merchandise will become to luxury offices and retail space called Mark 302. Developers across the nation are trying to find ways to repurpose big-box stores left empty by a changing economy, especially those in desirable locations, such as downtown Santa Monica
Sears Building History
The Santa Monica Sears building opened in 1947. At the time, it was on the edge of a business district in a blue-collar town. There was no freeway. Santa Monica was merely a shadow of what it would eventually become.
As one of many stores that opened after WW II, this Sears was the tenth one in Los Angeles County. Southern California was growing quickly, and consumers were ready to spend after years of war effort rationing.
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Sears stores flourished. The Santa Monica Sears, known for its free popcorn, was a favorite, especially among the children. However, the Sears brand began to flounder, as did the Kmart brand held by the Sears Holding Company. This past year alone, more than 200 locations closed, including the Santa Monica store.
Although Santa Monica was once a sleepy town, it is now one of the wealthiest in California. With the Sears building at the Expo terminal, across the street from Santa Monica Place, and just a short walk from the Pier, it is not surprising the developers jumped on the chance to renovate this landmark into an office building with a rooftop garden and retail space for food, drinks, books, and clothing. Developer Kacy Keys has said about the Santa Monica Sears location, “It’s a premier, crown-jewel asset.”
Locals will soon see several things happening to the building, including:
- The temporary removal of the roof to upgrade for earthquake standards
- The creation of an atrium with natural light reaching the lower levels
- Addition of a fourth story
- Roof garden with an outdoor deck and ocean views
- A beer garden will replace the loading dock area
Preserving the Santa Monica Sears Building
Despite all the changes, the Santa Monica Sears building will still have its Art Deco styling and preserve the qualities that made it a landmark for the area. The developers have created a design that retrofits the interior without many changes to the exterior.
I’m excited to see the changes coming to downtown Santa Monica and love to see the revitalization on the Westside. Each time a developer chooses a Westside location, it is proof that the economy is booming and that real estate is still expanding. If you’d like more information about revitalization projects and how they affect the real estate market, please give me a call.