Rick Caruso, a prominent real estate developer in Southern California, has unveiled plans for extensive renovations to The Commons shopping center in Calabasas, according to a recent report in The Acorn. Serving as the premier dining and retail destination since its opening in 1998, The Commons has retained its significance within Caruso’s multi-billion-dollar real estate portfolio, which spans 15 properties, encompassing retail, residential, hotel, and office spaces from Marina Del Rey to Santa Barbara.
The application for the proposed upgrades was recently submitted to the Calabasas Planning Division, although no specific timeline has been provided for final approval and commencement of construction.
Chris Robertson, the vice president of Caruso, expressed appreciation for the support The Commons has received from the Calabasas community over the past 25 years, solidifying its position as a cherished destination for visitors of all ages. However, she emphasized the need for change.
The renovation plans entail the removal of the Regency Theatres, which experienced a decline during the pandemic and failed to fully recover. In its place, new stores, restaurants, and up to 119 apartment homes will be constructed at two separate locations within the 25-acre property, situated east of the Calabasas civic center.
The existing 33,000-square-foot theater, which Regency took over from the bankrupt Regal Cinemas last year, will be demolished. In its footprint, 2,000 square feet of store space and additional features will be built on the first floor, with five levels accommodating up to 101 apartments above. Residents will have access to underground parking and rooftop amenities, including a swimming pool.
Originally opened as an Edwards Cinema in 1998, the theater at The Commons, the sole movie house in Calabasas, underwent various ownership changes, rebranding as Regal Edwards and eventually transitioning to Regency Theatres after Cineworld’s bankruptcy. Regency Theatres reopened the screens on Christmas weekend of the previous year as the Regency Calabasas Commons, and it continues to operate. No closing date has been announced.
Another aspect of the renovation project involves the addition of four new structures in the parking lot facing the theater. These structures will be linked by a grassy open space and pedestrian-friendly walking paths, offering a combination of one-to-three-story buildings with 8-10 boutique shops and three-to-five restaurants on the ground floor. Additionally, a total of 18 apartments will be situated above these establishments.
This expansion will introduce approximately 24,000 square feet of new retail space and residential units to a section of the shopping center referred to as Commons Lane. The northern and southern boundaries of The Commons will remain untouched.
The residential units will contribute to the city’s housing element, which aims to address the growing demand for homes in California. Per the city’s requirement, 12 of the nearly 120 new homes in the plan will be designated as affordable units.
While the project is still in the planning and approval stages, the concept of replacing the theater and introducing new homes and shops in the parking lot emerged following a series of visioning sessions conducted over the past 18 months. These sessions included the participation of residents, homeowner association presidents, and other city leaders, taking place at King’s Fish House at The Commons and the Senior Center and Founders Hall at the Calabasas Civic Center.
The proposed changes will collectively rejuvenate the aging shopping center, featuring an open play area suitable for relaxation, community events, and outdoor movies during the summer for families. Curated small shops will be incorporated, offering a Euro-Mediterranean ambiance for retail enthusiasts. Furthermore, new upscale restaurants will be added to the mix.
The construction plans will evoke memories of Caruso’s Palisades Village, where visitors can stroll among a variety of small stores, dine in charming restaurants, and enjoy family-friendly green spaces in the forward-thinking retail center that opened in 2018. A similar atmosphere can be found at the Americana at Brand, another mixed-use Caruso center in Glendale, albeit on a smaller scale.
According to Joe De Tuno, the president of the Avanti Homeowners Association, a newer development within walking distance of The Commons, the proposed improvements involving additional retail, more restaurants, and apartments are deemed positive and represent a good starting point.