Shopping, Entertainment Project Starts With Bang


A Styrofoam wall burst into pieces Thursday as city officials and corporate VIPs detonated mock explosives to break ground for the CityMills at Orange shopping and entertainment complex.

The $150-million center being built by the Washington-based the Mills Corp. was heralded as the city’s brightest development star.

“In the past, Orange was in the unenviable position of being a ‘me too’ city,” said City Manager David L. Rudat.


“Well, no more.”

The 800,000-square-foot CityMills, an outdoor complex of stores, restaurants and a 30-screen movie theater, will replace the nearly defunct City Shopping Center.

The large, enclosed mall never did quite catch on, officials said, and is now almost devoid of shops. But its location near the junction of the Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Orange freeways still remains desirable, they said.

The Mills Corp. last year opened a mall in Ontario the size of 38 football fields. But CityMills at Orange represents a switch from the company’s trend of building in more remote sites, said Mills chief executive Laurence C. Siegel.

City officials have placed much hope on CityMills. The Economic Development Department projected 4,000 people could find jobs during construction and the same number could find permanent jobs at the upscale retail outlets. Sales tax revenue could top $1 million per year for the city and $3 million for the county, with property taxes reaching another $1 million, city officials said.

Twelve department stores will anchor the site and about 100 specialty stores will join them, according to the Mills Corp.

Demolition on the old mall should begin in several months and the new center should open in the fall of 1998.


Few city officials could restrain their glee at the prospect. Fireworks were set off at the morning groundbreaking ceremony to symbolize the revitalization of the 87-acre site.

“Today, I am the luckiest director of economic development in the state of California,” said Linda Boone.

“This is what we all dream about. This is a fantasy.”