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HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA-DD Dunlap Cos. has completed a two-year, $3-million renovation of the Huntington Harbour Mall, a 103,000-sf shopping center that enjoyed initial success when it opened in 1968, but occupancy had slipped to 50% before Dunlap acquired the property in 1986 and boosted it to full occupancy.

The rehabilitation of the mall included structural repairs and a host of other improvements, among them the addition of extensive public art elements in a redesign that incorporates a wetlands theme in keeping with the history and environment of Huntington Beach.

Cozette Dunlap, VP of the firm, says the repairs and redesign were necessary because the mall was looking “very tired and in need of a serious face-lift.”

Besides structural improvements and repairs, which included the replacement of water and gas lines as well as sections of sewer lines, the developers added a host of images and features in keeping with the wetlands theme. Among these are a fountain that is 19 ft in diameter, an 800-gallon holding tank where water moves in and out to simulate tides, and a variety of sculptures of sea life and waterfowl.

The mall owners worked with a number of Long Beach-based designers and artists to create the new look for the mall, including the architectural firm of Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, landscape architect and artist Jon Cicchetti, and artists Steve Elicker and Dean Smith. The mall owners and the architects worked with the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Conservancy to create the ecosystem-themed project.

Dunlap embarked on the redesign after deciding that the mall needed more extensive repairs and improvements than the company had in mind when it first planned the rehab. According to Cozette Dunlap, the original plan was mainly to replace all the wood throughout the center, which had been damaged by dry rot.

The recently completed rehab follows an earlier improvement program that Dunlap executed in 1988. In the earlier project, Dunlap performed cosmetic improvements at the property and then set about boosting occupancy, which it increased to 100%. The mall owner added a new building pad in 1989, which now houses Washington Mutual and a variety of merchants.

Architect Cicchetti notes that although public art is a hot topic among shopping center developers and city planning commissions, only new shopping centers are required to integrate public art in their development plan. He says Dunlap sees the Huntington Harbour public art as a means to create a sense of community while at the same time drawing shoppers to the center.

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