By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
The four-month, 40-foot-deep “Big Dig” excavation below Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village was delayed by a Biblical-sounding 40 days, due to rainfall, but it is nearly over.
The project is still on target to open in the summer of 2018, revealed Michael Gazzano, Caruso’s vice president for development, at the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, March 23.
Caruso has already started cutting back the hours for the fleet of a dozen double-bellied trucks that have been hauling soil from Swarthmore down Chautauqua and onto Pacific Coast Highway to help fill the prospective park at Potrero Canyon.
Instead of running the trucks from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., they are now starting at 9 a.m. and finishing by 5 p.m.—and that is only on one or two days per week rather than five. And the trucks will be half the size—26 feet rather than 65 feet long.
After 40 sodden days of delays, the haulage will be over in April or possibly early May, Gazzano told the happy council.
That does not mean the heavy work is over, not by a long shot, he added.
Caruso will then begin to bring in concrete for the foundations and three-story underground parking areas from Santa Monica, but there will be far fewer trucks than there were dirt haulers and they will enter the Palisades via Temescal Canyon.
He denied jokey suggestions Caruso engineers had dug so deep they hit water.
“That’s about 90 feet down, and we only went down 30 to 40 feet,” he said.
Gazzano also said that negotiations were underway with possible retailers.
The high-end Vintage Grocers of Malibu has already been announced as the key retailer.
Long-time sports merchant Bob Benton will be coming back in a new, refreshed space.
Gazzano confirmed reports that there will be no chains among the Palisades Village stores, but just smiled enigmatically when he was pestered about a possible return of Maison Giraud, the much-missed restaurant. Chef Alain Giraud has said he hopes to return next year.
Plans to replace Caruso branding on the safety walls around the site with art from local schools appears to have been delayed as lawyers work out whether this would be legal.
Some residents and city officials are said to be unhappy with the branding, as it may undermine a 15-year ban on billboards along Sunset. But the city appears unsure about which department should be handling it.
Caruso is also expected to set up shop in the shuttered P2 store on Swarthmore while its long-time operator, Erica Simpson, takes a timeout with her family in Oregon.
Simpson is expected to reopen P2 when all the dirt has gone, one month before the Palisades Village opens for business next year.
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