The Village at Laguna Hills (Formerly Five Lagunas)

In March of 2016, the City approved a plan for the renovation of the Laguna Hills Mall which included approximately 880,000 square feet of new and renovated commercial retail space, movie theaters, restaurants, and 988 residential units. The approved plan was known as Five Lagunas. Within the last year, the property owner of Five Lagunas, Merlone-Geier Partners (MGP), informed City staff that they could not move forward with the approved 2016 plan.

On November 1, 2019, MGP submitted a development application to the City to replace the Five Lagunas project approved in 2016. Renamed, “The Village at Laguna Hills”, MGP’s development proposal includes the following:

Retail: 250,000 square feet

Hotel: 150 Rooms

Office: 465,000 square feet 

Mixed Use/ Residential: 1,500 units

For additional information, please contact Jay Wuu, Senior Planner by phone at 949-707-2662 or by email at jwuu@lagunahillsCA.gov.

Link to Planning Division "Planning Projects & New Developments" Page: The Village at Laguna Hills

Introduction and Background

On November 4, 2019, Merlone-Geier Partners (MGP), owners of the former Laguna Hills Mall site, submitted a new development proposal to the City.  This new project is intended to replace the Five Lagunas project that was approved in March 2016 which included approximately 926,000 square feet of commercial space (consisting of retail, restaurants, health club, cinema uses, and approximately 46,000 square feet for medical offices) and 988 dwelling units.  The new proposal is now called “The Village at Laguna Hills.”  By way of background, MGP purchased the Laguna Hills Mall from Simon Properties in May of 2013.  In March of 2016, the City Council approved a redevelopment project known as Five Lagunas.  By late 2017, MGP decided that the market would not support the approved Five Lagunas project and, consequently, went back to the drawing board.  In the meantime, they acquired the leases of Macy’s and JC Penny’s to make way for a broader redevelopment of the site.  In April of 2019, MGP floated a development proposal to the Community that greatly intensified the development with more housing and office space, and less retail.  This proposal was generally opposed by the Community and was never formally submitted as a development application to the City.  Once again, MGP went back to the drawing board and submitted the proposal they are now calling “The Village at Laguna Hills.”

Below are a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that the Laguna Hills’ community has asked.  The community organization known as the Future of Laguna Hills Advisory Group, or FLAG for short, compiled these questions and formally submitted them to the City Council to provide the community greater transparency about the planning procedures and process.  These FAQs are fluid in nature and will be updated and added to as the need arises.  To be included on the City’s public notification list for this project please submit your contact information by email to Jay Wuu at jwuu@lagunahillsca.gov.

  1. Explain the current zoning, conditional use permits, and land use for the 68-acre property [Village at Laguna Hills] and adjacent developments. What can/can’t the City Council control?
  2. What is the status of the plan MGP showed the community at their April 2019 Community Forum? How does it compare to the approved 2016 plan?
  3. How much housing does the City’s Zoning Code allow on the property?
  4. Does the City consider traffic in evaluating development proposals in the UVSP?
  5. In 2016, the City approved over 926,000 sq. feet of retail and office building area and 988 dwelling units. If MGP is an established developer, why has Five Lagunas taken so long to get started?
  6. What does the City Council see as a viable solution for the development of the site? When considering a new development, does and can the City Council factor in the greater good of the community?
  7. How do the new and future proposed/approved Oakbrook apartments factor into any decision making?
  8. What are current vacancy rates for existing apartment complexes?
  9. Why doesn’t the City insist MGP provide more retail space and less office and housing space?
  10. What creates the most value for the city and community: High-density multifamily housing, retail, or commercial office?
  11. What kind of retail space can residents expect to see since the outlook for traditional storefronts is so negative?
  12. How much revenue has the City lost from the mall closing?
  13. How has the City responded to this loss of revenue?
  14. How will property taxes benefit the city and how much will the city actually receive?
  15. How does more development on the site, especially more residential development, impact community infrastructure such as police services, fire and paramedic services, traffic, water, schools, etc.?
  16. What were the projected traffic levels for the originally approved Five Lagunas Project? What is the difference between retail development and apartment development with respect to traffic?
  17. How will high-density apartments/multifamily housing benefit residents? Did the 09 General Plan call for 200 apartments w/ options to add more in future phases? Are the approved 988 units mandated
  18. What if residents do not want to see more housing developed beyond the 988 units approved in 2016 in a future project?
  19. Why doesn’t the City simply ignore State housing element law?
  20. What is the City’s obligation to help address the Statewide/federal affordable housing shortage, including low-income and homeless shelters?
  21. What exactly is the Housing Crisis Act (SB 330) and how does it impact the new project submitted by MGP?
  22. What are the key steps involved in the entitlement process?
  23. How long will it take for the project to reach the public hearing?
View All