Mall looks for millions from city

The Carson Mall probably won't get a full renovation unless it can get help from the city, possibly as much as $6 million, the owner of the mall said Tuesday.

Francis Carrington, head of the Eureka, Calif.-based Carrington Co., said the city implied it would help pay for a $12 million project that would renovate the building's facade and double its stores and restaurants to about 40.

"I'm very much in favor of the project and it would make a tremendous difference to the city," Carrington said, "but, economically, it doesn't make sense without everyone joining and helping."

Renovation on the 12-acre property started this summer and was scheduled to be done in about five years. Carrington said the company might still do it alone, but he doesn't know how it would happen without losing money or replacing smaller shops with big box stores, something Carrington said he doesn't want to do.

The company would also have to pay for other expenses such as additional parking, new drainage and rearranging stores while the 43-year-old building is remodeled.

"There's no way you can do it by yourself ... it's kind of a quasi-public deal," Carrington said, adding that the South Carson Street building would be a great project for the city, considering its plans to remodel downtown.

The Carrington Co. has not put in a formal application for redevelopment help, said Joe McCarthy, city economic redevelopment manager, but it is "absolutely possible" the company and the city could work together on a plan.

City Supervisor Robin Williamson said she is excited about the mall's plans and wants the city to partner with the mall. The city needs more incentive programs like this, she said.

Last month, a panel of planning experts at an Urban Land Institute conference in Las Vegas said the city had a good plan for its downtown, but recommended the city tear down the mall and build an "urban village" of trendy shops and affordable housing in its place.

That village would be a great "gateway" to the downtown for visitors coming from the south, panel members said.

Mall representative Kevin Ray responded to the recommendation by saying the company had no plans to tear down the mall and would continue its renovation. He later added, however, that Carrington was "very clear" about what he expected from the city before he started the renovation.

Ray joked that if the company let the mall sit empty for several years, then maybe it would get help from the city.

The Board of Supervisors recently approved a $4 million incentive for the owner of the former Wal-Mart building in South Carson to help bring in Burlington Coat Factory and Sportsman's Warehouse. The funding came in two, $2 million incentives for the same building, but approved several months apart.

Money for redevelopment projects is taken from a portion of property taxes paid by businesses in one of the city's two redevelopment areas.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


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