The Cerritos Towne Center is a retail park in Cerritos, California that mixes retail, office, and entertainment into a single master project. The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is located in the project’s southwest corner. Cerritos High School, Cerritos City Hall, the Cerritos Sheriff Station, and the Cerritos Millennium Library are all located across the street from the Towne Center development and are referred to as “Downtown Cerritos” by some.
The Golden Triangle
The future site of the Cerritos Towne Center was built on 125 acres (0.51 km2) of historic dairy farms, one of the remaining remains of the city of Cerritos’ agricultural background. Because of its high economic potential, the area, formally designated as “Area Development Plan 2,” encompassed by State Route 91 to the north, Shoemaker Avenue to the east, 183rd Street to the south, and Bloomfield Avenue to the west, was dubbed “the Golden Triangle” by the local press.
By the early 1980s, when the dairies had left and the land was ripe for redevelopment, the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency had examined potential uses for the enormous tract. The redevelopment agency declared that anything was erected in the region should generate tax income, therefore housing, residential, and recreational development were ruled out. A concept for a distinctive donut-shaped shopping mall has been floating around since 1970, but it was eventually knocked down due to its proximity to the already profitable Los Cerritos Center. The following year, in 1971, plans were made to build a Polynesian cultural center complete with an artificial ocean, six islands, and a nightly erupting volcano. Neighbors with NIMBY attitudes and concerns about pollution (despite the developer’s assurances that pollution would be handled) were enough to vote against the development.
According to market research, the most suitable use of the Golden Triangle space would be a mix of public facilities, hotels, office and commercial buildings.
The Transpacific Development Company was promptly hired by the city of Cerritos to work on the multiphased southern project. Pressure from adjacent communities such as Norwalk and Downey, who were both building new hotels, contributed to the competitiveness. Taking advantage of its closeness to the Artesia Freeway, the redevelopment agency invested $8.6 million on road improvements, Towne Center on-ramps and off-ramps, and landscaping.
City administrators estimated that the $225 million Cerritos Towne Center will create $585 million in tax revenue and 4,500 employment over its first 50 years. Indeed, ADP’s national accounts division relocated its regional offices to the Cerritos Towne Center, becoming the building’s first tenants. The 8-story Sheraton Cerritos Hotel opened in 1990 as Phase I of the Towne Center project, and it remains the city’s lone temporary occupancy facility. The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors to the public in January 1993 and is still one of the most acclaimed venues of its size.
The northern quadrants were designated for retail and eateries. The city of Cerritos engaged Scottsdale, Arizona-based Vestar Development Company to build the 41-acre (170,000 m2) commercial area in the style of Newport Beach’s Fashion Island. However, more market analysis found that the luxury retail industry was in decline and would compete badly with the nearby Los Cerritos Center. City officials determined that a larger midscale big-box center would be successful and would complement shopping in Cerritos. On August 26, 1994, Smith’s Food King and one of the first Walmart shops in the Los Angeles area opened, ushering in the commercial phase of the Towne Center project. Today, the Cerritos Towne Center generates more over $200 million in gross retail sales each year.
Next Point of Interest: Hathaway Ranch & Oil Museum