Tierra Luna Marketplace will include retail, office space and hotel units when complete.Downey, Calif. — The former NASA Apollo building site in Downey will be redeveloped into the 1.5 million-square-foot Tierra Luna Marketplace and cost $400 million when complete in spring 2014. Tierra Luna Marketplace is the final piece of the original plans that were approved by the Downey City Council in January 2012 for a 77-acre, mixed-use complex.
When the Downey aerospace plant closed approximately 15 years ago, it started a transition. "The original master plan started with the shopping center just to the north of us called Downey Landing," says Bob Manarino, president of Manarino Realty, LLC, who will serve as the developer on the Tierra Luna project. "Then, to the south of us, Kaiser Permanente opened as a regional hospital."
Plans for Tierra Luna include two 150,000-square-foot anchors, a 14-screen movie theater, up to 500,000 square feet of office space, a 225-room hotel and a 42,000-square-foot sports club. At build-out, Tierra Luna is expected to generate 3,300 jobs and generate $4.2 million annually in sales, property and hotel occupancy taxes.
The center is approximately three to four months away from announcing any confirmed retailers, but demand is high thanks to Downey's underserved demographic, says Manarino. "There aren't any urban in-fill primary market projects like this anywhere, let alone in Southern California."
Downey has about 400,000 residents with an average household income of $70,000. Manarino says, "The other great thing is that it has about 140,000 daytime employees in the immediate trade area."
The site will be rough graded by the end of the year and horizontal construction will start early next year. Development plans also include an adaptive reuse of one of the property's existing buildings, originally designed by Gordon Kauffman, into a fire station for the city.
Not only is the historical significance of the project important to the city of Downey, it's also important to Manarino on a personal level since his dad worked at the aerospace plant for 35 years. The development team wanted to retain the site's historical significance with its name, Tierra Luna, which means "Earth Moon" in Spanish. The center will also include what Manarino referred to as a "historical block," featuring a full-size mock-up of the space shuttle and an Apollo capsule, which will all integrate into the existing Columbia Space Center.
"The most significant thing is that it's not just another development. It's a development that finishes the puzzle," says Manarino. "It's a sophisticated, mixed-use project in a great city."
— Brittany Biddy