After three years of planning, Merlone Geier Partners and P+R Architects in the USA broke ground on the new Five Lagunas center in a ceremony on August 5, 2016, on the site of the former Laguna Hills Mall. The landmark location – adjacent to the 5 Freeway – sits in the heart of Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods and Laguna Canyon, providing inspiration for the name of Five Lagunas.
“At the centre of the five communities, Five Lagunas will emerge as a modern, inviting and thoroughly south Orange County destination,” said Stephen Logan, project director of development, Merlone Geier Partners. “This groundbreaking is the culmination of years of vision, community engagement and sheer innovation to breathe new life into the community. South Orange County will finally have its very own community epicentre with five experiences in one: the outdoors, art, fashion, dining and entertainment.”
In designing Five Lagunas, Merlone Geier Partners set out to build an urban village where guests could shop, dine and play and residents could live – creating the first “downtown experience” for this master-planned community. The developer also committed to recycling as much of the former Laguna Hills Mall as possible, revamping a portion of the indoor mall and converting much of the property to airy outdoor spaces. Five Lagunas will be home to approximately 60 retailers, including a mix of local, national, fast-fashion and luxury brands.
The developer will also will engage and entertain guests with attractions and amenities designed to enliven their five senses. Five Lagunas will feature a 14-screen luxury movie theatre; chef-driven restaurants; a one-acre park where live music and events will be held; and plans to continue offering a farmers’ market. A six-story parking garage will be added for shoppers’ convenience, too.
After the project opening, the biggest innovation will be the inclusion of modern apartment-homes, an important addition to Five Lagunas’ development as an active downtown-style destination. The project will be completed in phases and opening dates will be announced in the near future. These additions reflect nationwide housing trends catering to consumers who want to live near where they work, be socially engaged and immersed in vibrant urban lifestyles. Catering to their interests, the apartments at Five Lagunas will feature luxury amenities, such as pool decks and state-of-the-art workout facilities.
To enable Five Lagunas to achieve this transformation, Merlone Geier collaborated with several outstanding corporations, which include P+R Architects, Studio One Eleven and C.W. Driver.
“From ideation to groundbreaking, we have relied on P+R Architects to help bring our vision for Five Lagunas to life,” added Logan. “Their nimble team honed in on our desire to create an exciting destination for this area, model the best of living and transform the property into its own thriving community. As development of Five Lagunas progresses, we will see their artistry in action.”
The Five Lagunas’ groundbreaking ceremony attracted 80 attendees, including officials from the City of Laguna Hills.
“The groundbreaking event is especially gratifying for us in that it represents over six years of effort starting with our initial revitalization plan with Simon Property Group in 2012. Merlone Geier was extremely interested in the design and we were hired to continue with the execution of the plan,” said Ronald E. Bernhardt, AIA, Associate Principal and Project Manager at P+R Architects. “In May 2014 Merlone Geier was able to acquire the Sears lease which opened the potential to what is now a true urban village with a park amenity, restaurants and three entitled residential parcels. The project was also rebranded ‘Five Lagunas’ to fully embrace the five communities that comprise the name and reinforces the notion that the re-envisioned property is no longer just a mall.”