Mall Getting Major Overhaul Confirming plans for a major overhaul, the owner of the Westfield Shoppingtown Promenade mall announced a $35 million upgrade to transform the mall’s ground floor into a retail/entertainment center. Plans call for construction of a new exterior facade and addition of new restaurants and entertainment venues. One potential tenant is Jillian’s, a 67,000-square-foot “entertainment” restaurant with billiards, electronic games and a 14-lane bowling alley. The Kentucky-based company has signed a lease but must obtain a variance from the city of Los Angeles to sell alcohol and offer dancing. A hearing on the variance is scheduled for May 25. LAUSD Eyes CSUN for School Los Angeles Unified School District officials are considering building a new high school on the Cal State Northridge campus, a move that would give the San Fernando Valley its first such facility in nearly three decades. The proposed 800-student “teaching academy” would help relieve severe crowding at nearby Granada Hills High School and Monroe High School in North Hills, said district officials, who are in a desperate citywide search to find suitable sites for 100 schools by 2008 when the student population is expected to swell to 776,150 from the current 700,000. CSUN Interim President Louanne Kennedy said the new high school would equally meet university and district needs. Ikea Announces Huge Project Home furnishings retailer Ikea has agreed to build one of California’s largest buildings, a nearly 2 million-square-foot distribution center at Tejon Ranch Co.’s new industrial park in southern Kern County. The $50 million project is a coup for Tejon Ranch Co. as it seeks to capitalize on its vast land holdings on the northern fringe of metropolitan Los Angeles. The firm is also crafting plans to build a 4,000-acre, master-planned community on the southern edge of its property, which is in L.A. County. Ikea will purchase an 80-acre parcel at the base of the Grapevine. The distribution center and industrial park are examples of the northward push of development from Los Angeles, where a scarcity of available land and a growing economy have sent property values soaring. J.D. Power Agrees to Partnership Agoura Hills-based J.D. Power and Associates will form an e-commerce company with San Francisco-based Consumers Car Club that will combine Power’s consumer information database with members-only retail services and discount prices. Called J.D. Power Clubs Inc., the site will launch with an initial focus on the automotive sector but will expand to include dealing with insurance, financial services, telecommunications and real estate. Judge Gives Go-Ahead to Project A judge ruled that Newhall Land & Farming Co. can develop a 1,700-home community in Valencia that environmentalists had fought, claiming there wasn’t enough water. The Westridge development will feature homes, a golf course, retail stores and an elementary school. The development had been on hold since environmentalists sued, claiming the environmental report submitted for the project was incorrect in claiming the community wouldn’t impact air or water pollution in the area. Newhall plans to have home lots available in the community by 2001. Environmentalists say they will appeal the decision. Homestore Does Deal with AOL Thousand Oaks-based Homestore.com Inc. reached a five-year expanded agreement valued at more than $200 million with America Online Inc. to be the exclusive provider of real estate listings and home services on the world’s largest online service. Homestore.com controls more than 90 percent of homes listed for sale on the Internet, which has prompted an investigation by the Justice Department. AOL will receive shares amounting to a 5.6 percent stake in Homestore.com. Charter to Offer Video-on-Demand After years of promises from the cable industry, video-on-demand may finally become a reality starting in the L.A. area. Charter Communications Inc., the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, said it will roll out the service here within the next three months. The company, which is owned by computer billionaire Paul Allen, is calling it the nation’s largest launch of video-on-demand. It will involve 1.2 million homes in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and elsewhere getting access to the service. Unlike pay-per-view, which allows viewers to watch movies at specific start times, video-on-demand gives instant gratification allowing the viewer to watch a desired program at any time, on any day, with VCR functionality. Charter customers must subscribe to a digital service costing about $10 a month more than conventional analog service to get the new service.