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community Lots of Positive Changes at the Capitola Mall Capitola•Soquel SantaCruzSentinel M erloneGeierboughtthe Capitola Mall in 2016 in hopes of "bringing new life to the prop- erty," says Izamar Hook, who was hired as the mall's General Manager in 2017 and is excited about her role. The manage- ment team was assembled shortly after the purchase of the center. That same year, MerloneGeier began strategiz- ing for ways to improve the mall, and make it a place that the community would em- brace. In January 2018, there was a well-attended public meeting to get community feedback about the mall and its future. To get increased feedback, Hook says, Merlo- neGeier sent out thousands of surveys in the mail earlier this year, and posted the survey on- line and with social media (the mall's Instagram and Facebook accounts are both @ShopCapi- tolaMall). The survey should wrap up in mid-summer, and then MerloneGeier will incor- porate feedback as it develops future plans. "It's been a privilege to get to know members of the com- munity and hear their ideas for what the future could hold for this property," shares Project Manager Stephen Logan. "We're excited to begin the planning process as we review the community's responses to the survey, and we appreci- ate everyone's high level of engagement as they share their hopes and dreams for this area," adds Logan. There have been several changes and improvements already. "Last year, we added The Puppetry Institute," says Hook. "It's a studio (next to Santa Cruz Children's Museum of Discovery) for community members ages 8 and up to learn the art of puppetry." This summer, they're opening The Lab at the Puppetry Institute, a multi-media and animation lab for ages 6 and up in the Macy's wing across from The Puppetry Institute. Registration is open for summer and fall classes at thepuppetryinstitute.org/work- shops. In April, popular kids' play space Giggles-N-Wiggles ex- panded by opening a second facility across from its original bounce house/play location. The new facility has an arcade area; see details below. In May, two new shops opened: gift/ jewelry/clothing shop Rainbow- zend (in the spot that formerly housed Gymboree) and Actual Home (designer furniture and décor). You can read more about Rainbowzend below. In early June, the Capitola Mall extended its hours: the mall and most stores are now open 10 am-8 pm Sunday through Wednesday and 10 am-9 pm Thursday through Saturday. Selected restaurant and department store hours may vary. Coming in August: Cricket Wireless is opening its first Santa Cruz County location inside the mall. The mall started a few new activities in honor of its 41st anniversary this year that ben- efit a variety of organizations. "First Wednesday Family Fun!" is held from 3-5 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month in the Macy's wing. For a $5 donation per child, families can enjoy crafts, activities and en- tertainment. Proceeds benefit Jacob's Heart Children's Sup- port Services. Nonprofit organization Art of Santa Cruz is another current mall partner. They organize a First Thursday Art Walk that benefits the nonprofit and vari- ous charities (these rotate each month). There are featured local artists and live entertain- ment; the event is from 5:30-8 pm the first Thursday of each month. While the Capitola public library branch library is closed, MerloneGeier has donated store space so that the library can raise funds. The storefront is located next to Starbucks and they hold regular book sales, benefiting Friends of the Capitola Library, on the first Saturday of every month. They are sometimes open additional days each week. The Capitola library, which was formerly housed in a temporary struc- ture, closed for construction on May 1. Estimated construction time is at least 18 months. More about Giggles-N-Wig- gles Husband and wife Kelly and Su Clark opened the original Giggles-N-Wiggles—some- times referred to as an "indoor playground"—at Capitola Mall in December 2015. This venue includes a ball pit, trampo- line, and more. In April 2018, they were able to expand and open a second "Bounce and Arcade" facility directly across from the original, smaller store- front. Both locations sell drinks and snacks, which is convenient for both parents, and their kids who work up an appetite or thirst while playing. The Clarks decided to open the original venue because of a "necessity in the community for a safe, clean indoor play area that families could all en- joy together," says Su. Cleanli- ness is extremely important to them. "From day one, our staff is trained to clean nonstop," she says. "In addition, every- one on staff is CPR- and first aid-certified. The family works as a team to operate the two locations. Su does on-site management, while Kelly takes care of book- keeping and maintenance. In addition, their 30-year-old daughter works at the facilities. They also have two sons, ages 25 and four, and a six-year-old grandson. Their younger kids play at Giggles-N-Wiggles "…all the time, thus we hold ourselves to a high standard," says Su. The new Bounce and Arcade offers multiple levels of play for all ages, from four to 40 and onward, including several bounce houses. Admission to "Bounce and Arcade" is $12.50 for up to 12 years old or $15.50 for 13 and up; multiple-visit discount passes are available and never expire. Adults can accompany their kids on bounce houses if they PhotoCourtesyofCapitolaMall By Tara Fatemi Walker story continues on C4... FRIDAY,JUNE15,2018 SANTACRUZSENTINEL.COM |COMMUNITY | 1 C

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