The owner of Santa Monica Place has shelved its controversial redevelopment plans until Federated Department Stores Inc. determines whether it will shutter one of the mall's two anchor stores.

Federated, the surviving entity after the mega-merger with May Co., operates the Macy's and the Robinsons-May stores at Santa Monica Place, owned by Macerich Co. That overlap has led Federated to put the site on a list of stores in the L.A. region that could be closed.

Retail consultants and Santa Monica elected officials believe Robinsons-May could shut its doors within the first three months of next year. "From everything that I've heard, it's going to happen," said Rob York, a retail consultant at Santa Monica-based Fransen Co.

Randy Brant, a Macerich senior vice president who overseas Santa Monica Place, said Federated hasn't notified the company of a final decision. He said Macerich is waiting to find out the fate of the store before proceeding with its redevelopment planning.

"Macerich is weighing all of the options," he said. "We are studying all the potentials based on what may happen with Federated and what the city might approve."

Macerich already knows what won't fly. A public outcry forced the company to retreat from plans it announced a year ago to raze the 560,000-square-foot mall and build an open-air lifestyle center with three 21-story residential towers in its place.

The Santa Monica City Council agreed to work with Macerich on brokering a compromise with community groups. For nearly a year, Santa Monica community groups and elected officials met with Macerich executives and drew sketches, in some cases with crayons, of what they would like to see at the site.

Much of that work could now be out the window. Instead of tearing down the mall, Macerich is considering an extensive renovation of the property. That could include removing the enclosed mall's roof, according to sources briefed by company officials. Macerich, which is based in Santa Monica, would also carve out about 85,000 square feet for new corporate offices.

However, the structure of the mall would be left essentially intact. That would make connecting the Third Street Promenade through the mall to Colorado Avenue unlikely.

"If we can't come up with an economic model that makes sense, if the project doesn't offer returns that make sense, then we are going to have to look at more of a remodel of the existing facility," Brant said in an earlier interview.


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