West Malibu community expanding

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The Trancas Country Mart plans by architect Doug Burdge include two new restaurants, a common green area with a play section for young children, a bank and new retail buildings.

A park and an expanded shopping plaza could be in the future for the area.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

West Malibu residents might have fewer reasons to leave their rural community in the next few years as plans for an expanded shopping mall and city park are in the works. Earlier this month, Trancas Country Mart owner J.S. Rosenfield & Co. submitted its application to the city for a 37,000-square-foot expansion of the shopping plaza. And on Wednesday, the city will host a meeting to seek community input on the proposed Trancas Canyon Park.

The application for changes at the mall include maintaining the existing HOWS Market while constructing retail and restaurant space attached to the west and east sides of the building. Trad Di Noi’s Antonio Alessi and nightlife impresario Rande Gerber would operate the restaurants, one an Italian eatery, the other a family style steakhouse. A common green area with a section for young children would be added a short distance to the west of that building. The green area would be surrounded by the existing Starbucks coffee shop plus two new restaurants to the south, and newly constructed retail shops to the north and west.

Also, on the front parking lot of the plaza, a bank and two more retail shops would be constructed. An additional parking lot would be built directly across from the mall on the other side of Trancas Canyon Road. And a third parking area would be built east of the main section of the mall, on the other side of Trancas Creek. There, additional retail and other buildings would be constructed.

The permitting process could take up to 18 months. No variances are being sought. J.S. Rosenfield also is planning for a $1.5 million upgrade to the septic system.

J.S. Rosenfield, which also owns the Brentwood Country Mart, purchased the mall last year. Dan Bercu, a partner in the company is a 10-year resident of Malibu. He said he has begun speaking with residents about the project, and plans to visit with the various homeowners associations. The project has further local flavor with architect Doug Burdge being assigned the project.

Bercu described the project as “low-density and charming,” similar to the Brentwood Country Mart. The proposal also includes a significant amount of open space, including picnic areas, gardens and equestrian trails.

If all goes smoothly, the project could be completed by 2010.

Multisports fields, dog park possibilities

Meanwhile, more space for community activities could be available by next year just up the street from Trancas Country Mart on the 13-acre city owned Trancas Canyon Park property. The city has hired RBF Consulting to design a park that could include a multi-sports field for practice and possible games, plus a dog park, playground area, restroom facility and parking lot.

Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stalling said in an interview on Tuesday that the consultant will do most of the talking Wednesday at a community meeting taking place at Malibu High School’s auditorium, where conceptual designs for the park will be displayed and community input will be sought.

“The purpose of this is to get input from the community as to what are the amenities they would like to see in the park, and what they believe are the priorities,” Stallings said.

Initial discussion about the park has proposed it to be one to three acres in size. Stallings said an exact size is not known yet, but he said since much of the property has steep slopes, he does not expect more than half of it could be developed.

“There may be grading in some areas, but we want to try to keep the property as much the same as we possibly can,” Stallings said.

Once a final design has been submitted, the project must receive coastal development permit approval from the Planning Commission, and the City Council if there is an appeal.

The project is estimated to cost $3.1 million. The city already has $665,000 set aside to build the park. City staff is looking into how the rest of the project could be funded.

Some funding ideas proposed in the past by the City Council include using money from the General Fund or issuing certificates of participation, which are similar to bonds. The city raised most of the money to buy the Chili Cook-Off site through the issuance of COPs.

Stallings said if there are no bumps in the road, construction could begin in March, with the park ready for an opening three to four months after.

The community workshop on Wednesday this week begins at 6 p.m. The Malibu High Auditorium is located at 30215 Morning View Dr. More information can be obtained by calling 310.456.2489 ext. 225.