After $50-million makeover, Santa Monica’s historic Sears store is remade as office space

A local landmark since shortly after World War II, the Santa Monica Sears store has spent more than two years getting a $50-million makeover to turn it into a chic office building for creative types, spiced with a choice handful of restaurants and stores appealing to locals and the millions of annual visitors who typically visit the seaside city.

The ambitious project is intended be a showcase for how to reuse obsolete department stores in urban areas. Its owners predict it will turn out that way, but their timing has run into a global catastrophe.

Now that the complex, renamed Mark 302, is ready for tenants to build out their own spaces, the pandemic has knocked the office and restaurant rental markets on their heels.

Work started on the former Sears in a different world — Santa Monica office space was hard to find, and the restaurant scene thrived. Now, few new office leases are being signed anywhere in the region, and closed restaurants are heartbreakingly commonplace as COVID-19 fears and operating restrictions drive diners back home.

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