Brainiac considers the Westminster Mall, and you can vote on its future, too

by in News

You don’t have to be Brainiac to see that the Westminster Mall just ain’t what she used to be. Sears closed recently, knocking out one of its longtime anchor tenants, and walking through the mall today it feels dim and dated, with too many vacancies or stores with which you’re not familiar.

So what would you like to see there?

The city of Westminster, which is revising city plans for the property, wants to know what you think. It has created an online survey you can take to offer your opinion on what would revive the mall and the land around it in the future. The property owner will ultimately decide, but what the city includes in its plan will influence which directions it might go.

One category asks respondents to pick three possible ideas for what’s described as “placemaking & public realm,” or more simply, spaces the public might want to use. Choices include gathering spaces and open seating, small-vendor kiosks, fountains, public art and murals, a promenade, bike paths, green space and landscaping, and a plaza or amphitheater.

Another asks for three picks in the area of activities and entertainment. Choices here include playgrounds, a farmers market, a food hall, food trucks, youth activities, interactive activities, special events, indoor entertainment, and nightlife.

The final section of the survey asks you to rank big-picture ideas for things you’d like to see more of at the Westminster Mall. Those options include retail, hotel, residential, office, biking amenities, transportation options, and parking options.

You can take the survey online through Sept. 15 at Surveymonkey.com/r/WestminsterMallSP or in person from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Dia de la Familia festivities at Sigler Park.

Brainiac is a big advocate of open, public spaces so in the first category we voted for the plaza or amphitheater, green space and gathering spaces. As far as getting out of the house and going to the mall, or the second category options, we favor farmers markets and food halls, and indoor entertainment. And nightlife. Can we get a fourth vote in this category, please?

As for the final grouping, more and better retail would be great, a hotel, perhaps, which would draw more restaurants and public activity — and a combination of biking and transportation options that could help people get around a bit more easily.

But that’s just Brainiac, and looking at the 100-plus comments on the Westminster city and police department Facebook pages, it’s clear many of you want the return of something the Westminster Mall lost a couple of decades ago: movie theaters, especially the modern dine-in kind.

“A movie theater, actual restaurants.” wrote Facebook user Lauren Rendon. “It could also have more ‘Anaheim Packing District’-style eateries.”

Added Andy Mendoza: “Emulate the spirit of Downtown Disney now that Disney destroyed it. Outdoor family friendly shops, cool entertainment, and a movie theater. The mall is lame. I have tried taking my 3 year old a few times but it just exhausts him (boring factor) with no shops for him.”

Reading through these its clear that people want attractive options – a cinema, better restaurants, nicer shops, a Trader Joe’s – with many suggesting the more modern open mall concepts such as Bella Terra or Irvine Spectrum. Not many people commenting on Facebook were excited about the prospect of more housing, with many using the example of Bella Terra, where surrounding apartments have crowded streets, as a cautionary tale.

But a few comments showed the willingness of some of you to think outside the box.

“What if they were to bulldoze the whole place into a dirt field with stadium seating and lights and have Monster Jam and Supercross on the weekends,” wrote Larry Kelly. “And during the week they can do a small BMX track.”

And then there was Kevin Caoimhín Smith, who was all for a full demo, though that dirt track racing might have to wait a few thousand years for things to cool down.

“Met my first wife there, soooo, probably nuke it,” he wrote.

If you’ve got any burning questions, comments, story ideas you’d like Brainiac to check out in Westminster, Garden Grove, Stanton or Midway City, send us an email at plarsen@scng.com or give us a phone call at 714-796-7787.