In fashion, it's all about image. And Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa is working on its makeover.
The mall's plans, which will need approval by the city, include opening a brewhouse, building two new entryways and renovating the historic Coddingtown sign with new paint and more efficient lighting.
BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, a chain based in Huntington Beach, is negotiating the terms of a lease with the mall, said Lois Codding, vice president of Codding Enterprises. If finalized, the restaurant will open in 2012 on the mall's north side, she said.
"We're very close, but it's not finalized yet," Codding said. "They've had an interest in Santa Rosa for a while now."
Plans are also in the works to demolish and rebuild the mall's main entrance facing Guerneville Road and to build a taller entryway facade on the east side of the complex facing Highway 101.
Representatives of the mall's owners, Codding Enterprises and Simon Property Group, presented outlines of the makeover plan Thursday to the city's Design Review Board, which will review more detailed plans later before approving the project.
"I think the board's excited about what they're seeing," said Ken MacNab, chairman of the panel. "It's a mall that needs to be updated, and I think everyone including Coddingtown and Simon sees that, and I think they're making the right moves."
Members of the board asked Simon representatives to bring more information about how the proposed changes would work together for a cohesive new look for the mall.
Laura Kozup, area mall manager for Simon, said in an interview that the mall is planning a kick-off event in mid-April and aims to complete the renovations by mid-November.
"We're still in the early stages," Kozup said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Kozup said the mall is planning to restore the wooden rafter beams, upgrade restrooms and build a play area for children. Kozup said many retailers have expressed interest in filling the empty spaces in the mall, but she said it was too early to discuss details.
Ben Stone, executive director of the county Economic Development Board, said the world has changed since Coddingtown was built in the early 1960s, with the arrival of big-box stores, the growth of the region's population and the popularity of online and catalog shopping.
"What people are looking for now in retail, I think, is experience," Stone said.
Jennifer Harrison, 45, was on her way to Shutterbug in Coddingtown Mall on Thursday. She said she'd love to see a Nordstrom's, Cheesecake Factory or Pottery Barn open in the mall.
"I know they're always talking about bringing them here, but it hasn't come to fruition," she said.
Joni Silver, 80, was drawn on Thursday to shop at the Hallmark Store and Whole Foods.
"It's really sad in here, all the empty stores," Silver said. "And I really love this mall."