WESTWOOD — The man who played a significant role in resurrecting Santa Monica's Third Street mall has been hired by the Westwood Village association in hopes he can also help revitalize that once-bustling enclave of restaurants, theaters and shops.
The appointment of Thomas Carroll to the $91,815-a-year job was announced Wednesday by Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Westwood, and Peter Blackman, chairman of the Westwood Village Management Corp.
The management group was formed last year to supervise efforts to restore the village's economic health and recapture its appeal as a shopping and entertainment center. Two years ago, Carroll served as a city consultant on formation of the corporation.
Blackman, a vice chancellor at UCLA, said Carroll "has evidenced tremendous energy and creativity in addressing the kinds of problems which have been faced by the village, and his experience in Santa Monica is valuable."
The selection of Carroll followed a statewide search for a person to direct the management corporation's plans for the make-over of Westwood Village, both with street improvements and new marketing. The search was limited to California to avoid the potential costs of relocating candidates from out of state, said Vivian Rescalvo, a planning deputy to Yaroslavsky.
Last month, at Yaroslavsky's urging, the council allocated $600,000 as seed money for the management group, transferring the money from a special Westwood parking fund to the nonprofit corporation to cover its operating expenses over the next three years.
The money, which will be repaid through a special assessment on village property owners, is intended to pay both for office space and personnel--including Carroll--to guide the village's transformation.
That transformation has been deemed critical both by officials at City Hall and community leaders in Westwood Village, where the recession, competition from newer shopping centers and some well-publicized problems with crime and traffic all have hurt business. Last month, officials said more than 40 of the village's nearly 400 stores were out of business, and many of those that remained were said to be struggling financially.
Carroll has some 20 years experience in working both in government and for organizations closely involved in public endeavors. A onetime official in municipal and state government in West Virginia, Carroll also worked briefly for the National League of Cities in Washington.
But recently--and key to his appointment--Carroll spent eight years as director of the nonprofit corporation credited with turning around the Santa Monica mall, now known as the Third Street Promenade. The low-slung downtown mall, for years struggling to compete with new shopping centers, was transformed in a $13-million make-over that resulted in new storefronts, restaurants and theaters.
Carroll could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But in a prepared statement released by city officials, he said: "I am excited about this new challenge. I believe that Westwood Village needs to better serve its immediate area.
"I am convinced, with the commitment that I have experienced as I have started this challenge, the future of Westwood Village will be strong and bright."