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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Mall to Expand

Fresh from a $350 million makeover of its Topanga mall, Westfield has set its sights on expanding and remodeling its Fashion Square property in Sherman Oaks. The Australian shopping center operator has filed a proposal to add 280,000 square feet of retail space including new shops, restaurants and other amenities, a renovation that will increase the mall’s size by more than 32 percent and cost about $200 million. Among the changes proposed is a completely new, 20,000-square-foot food court modeled along the lines of the Dining Terrace installed in Topanga and Century City, about 80 new retail shops and four sit-down restaurants, a new parking structure and entrance and a number of landscaping and traffic flow improvements. “The vision is a result of ongoing dialogue with the city, our neighbors and our customers,” said Katy Dickey, a spokeswoman for the company, in a statement. “It is our philosophy to continually invest and reinvest in our properties ” Indeed, Westfield has been on a veritable spending spree in Southern California. In addition to the Topanga center, the company has completely revamped its Century City mall at a cost of about $150 million and it has plans to also renovate Valencia Town Center in Santa Clarita. Westfield, which in its most recent full year financial statements reported a net profit of A$4.2 billion, the equivalent of about $3.3 billion at today’s exchange rates, acquired Fashion Square in 2002 in a joint venture with Prudential plc, which is advised by JP Morgan. The company paid $67 million for a 50 percent interest in the shopping center at the time. Around the world, Westfield has just under 20 redevelopment projects underway, but particularly in Southern California, Westfield, like other mall operators, has few options for growth but to expand its existing centers because of limited land availability. One of the first Valley shopping malls to begin attracting upscale shops like Betsey Johnson, Coach and Max Studio the location is the only Valley site Bloomingdale’s occupies Fashion Square has long boasted a staunch customer base of stylists from neighboring studios and affluent shoppers. But while the center has upgraded its store mix since it opened in 1961, it has remained limited by its size and age. As other retail centers in the area have been remodeled and expanded, Fashion Square, with just 848,000 square feet of retail space, now holds the dubious distinction of being among the smallest and oldest of its competitors. The center has no movie theater and only recently added a few very casual sit-down restaurants. The mall owners have only just filed plans for the renovation and it will be some time before they begin signing new tenants, but if the efforts at Topanga are any indication, Fashion Square is likely to see its already trendy lineup of stores expanded further still. Among the new retailers at Topanga are Armani A/X, H & M; and Burberry. Westfield will be adding the new shops mostly along the back end of the mall where it faces the 101 Freeway. Plans call for a new parking structure where a current structure sits toward the Woodman Avenue side and a new entrance along Riverside Drive. It’s believed that the mall operators already have entitlements for the expansion, but, as it did at Topanga, Westfield is launching an all-out campaign to win community support for its expansion, including a website devoted to the project and requests for residents to suggest stores they would like to see added and communicate their support to city officials. Other retail sites undergoing development in the Valley area are: Americana at Brand, Glendale Americana at Brand, perhaps the most ambitious mixed use project to come along in the Valley, has leased about 70 percent of its available retail space well in advance of its anticipated spring, 2008 opening. The $300-million redevelopment at Brand Boulevard, Colorado Street and Central Avenue in Glendale will include 475,000 square feet of retail space, a multiplex movie theater and a number of restaurants in addition to a residential complex of 238 apartments and 100 condominiums. Among the retailers who have already signed onto the project, which is being developed by Caruso Affiliated, are A/X Armani Exchange, Juicy Couture, Kiehl’s and Lacoste. But what will perhaps be the most differentiating feature of the project is the way in which the retail and residential portions will be intertwined in a self-contained community large enough to constitute its own neighborhood. When completed, those residing in the townhouses and flats will be able to order up food from any one of the restaurants in the complex or walk to their favorite eateries through landscaped walkways and a two-acre park on site. Aware of the synergies it is creating, Caruso will open the retail center first, followed by the residential portion a few months later. “We want people to see the context in which they are living,” said Linda Berman, a spokesman for the company. Valley Plaza, North Hollywood It’s been almost 20 years in the making, and residents are still not likely to see any changes anytime soon, but Valley Plaza, one of the first shopping centers ever built in the country, is likely to take its first steps toward redevelopment this year. J.H. Snyder Co. has acquired about 80 percent of the 17-acre center, and next month is expected to ink an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, a crucial step to begin redeveloping the site. Snyder’s initial plans call for a 750,000-square-foot “destination center” anchored by Macy’s and a movie theater. Cliff Goldstein, senior partner at Snyder, said the company still has about six parcels it will have to acquire before it can move forward, but the company has come a long way since it began working on a plan for the center in 1999. Plans to redevelop Valley Plaza, which sits at Laurel Canyon and Victory boulevards in North Hollywood, actually began early in the 1990s when another developer tried to assemble the property. But the center, built in the 1940s, proved challenging for developers because it was comprised of 30 separate parcels, most of which had different owners. Now, with most of the properties assembled and a tentative agreement in place to relocate the Macy’s store now at the neighboring Laurel Plaza center, Goldstein expects that the company can break ground in the summer of 2008. Snyder’s plan is to relocate Macy’s and to then redevelop the Laurel Plaza site as a residential complex of condominiums and rentals. After getting input on those plans from the community, the company is presenting a revised plan for Laurel Plaza to residents on March 14. Paseo Camino Real, Camarillo By the fourth quarter of this year, residents driving along the Ventura (101) Freeway in Camarillo will begin to see signs of retail life just past the Las Posas exit. That’s when and where Paseo Camino Real, a 500,000 square-foot retail center will begin to be constructed on a 45-acre site. Developer Selleck Properties has already signed a long list of power tenants including Kohl’s, Circuit City, Barnes & Noble and Michaels The Arts and Crafts Store for the site, which Bob Selleck optioned last year. Escrow is expected to close later this year. “We’re pretty well leased,” Selleck said. When it’s completed, the development will also include about 58 acres of industrial development, but that portion is not likely to begin until next year. Paseo Camino Real will become part of a newly revitalized Camarillo shopping region. Chelsea Property Group, which owns Camarillo Premium Outlets nearby, is also planning a neighboring lifestyle center of about 240,000 square feet. The additional development underway is requiring a number of infrastructure improvements, not the least of which is a new freeway entrance and exit midway between Las Posas and Central. Several adjoining commercial developments have been held up as a result of the freeway expansion plan, but Paseo Camino Real is not affected because the development is already entitled.

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