Developer titan Stan Kroenke scored a hat trick in December, acquiring his third Warner Center property of 2022.
The Los Angeles Rams owner and leading investor of Hollywood Park in Inglewood, which includes SoFi Stadium, closed on his purchase of The Village. The acquisition adds to his portfolio a developed shopping center adjoining two square blocks of Woodland Hills properties he purchased last year. The transaction further fuels speculation that Kroenke will add a Rams team facility to the area.
Kroenke, through The Kroenke Organization, bought The Village from French retail developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which announced the transaction on Dec. 27, for a $325 million price tag.
In March, Kroenke also acquired the Westfield Promenade mall site, just south of The Village, from Unibail for $150 million, and in June purchased the adjacent office building at 21555 Oxnard St. for $175 million.
The Westfield Topanga center was not part of the transaction, although Unibail has spent much of this year offloading its U.S. properties and may continue to do so this year.
“This transaction is another step in the streamlining of our U.S. regional asset portfolio as part of our wider plan to radically reduce our financial exposure to the U.S., and demonstrates the continued investor interest in high quality assets with strong operating performance,” Unibail Chief Financial Officer Fabrice Mouchel said in a statement.
A Kroenke representative said the purchase “furthers Stan Kroenke’s investment in Warner Center, the Woodland Hills community and the greater Los Angeles region at-large. We will continue to operate The Village as an open-air lifestyle and retail destination.”
Rams facility planned?
Last year speculation began that Kroenke, who famously keeps plans close to the chest, was planning to relocate the Rams’ headquarters and practice facility to the Warner Center from Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, respectively.
The Promenade, which only has a handful of operating businesses, and the office building property next door have a combined nearly 65 acres. Prior to selling the Promenade, Unibail had secured environmental reviews and permits for redevelopment plans there — including a 10,000-15,000-seat sports arena.
The Village, which opened in 2015, is a thriving 600,000-square-foot outdoor retail center whose continued operation would certainly fit into the broader dreams for the area.
The city-approved Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan seeks to essentially transform the area into the San Fernando Valley’s downtown. Development, particularly of apartment buildings, has taken off.
Brad Rosenheim, executive director of the Warner Center Association, has welcomed Kroenke’s interest in the area.
“Everybody is speculating because no one has seen anything,” he said, “but I think if the Rams move their headquarters and practice facility here, it would be a fantastic addition. I think Mr. Kroenke has proven he can create wonderful places and that would only add to the upward trajectory of the Warner Center community.”
Though the Warner Center area of Woodland Hills has long been designated for upward development, it was unclear who would make the first moves. Unibail, after sinking in the time and money to secure permits for what would have been a $1.5 billion overhaul of the Promenade, announced its retreat from the U.S. market last year.
Kroenke’s recently acquired office building, which previously housed Anthem Inc., has been vacant since 2019.
John Walker, president of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization, previously told the Business Journal that his group had met with Kroenke’s following the Promenade acquisition and that’s where he first got wind that Kroenke’s people were considering practice fields for the previously planned stadium as they pondered what to do with the land. He said at the time he hoped to work with Kroenke’s development team to alleviate whatever traffic and noise issues would arise from development.
“We worked very hard with Westfield when they developed their Promenade project,” Walker said in June. “When there are opportunities like this, there’s always room for a negative impact, and we’re going to work with them to see that the negative impact is minimized or eliminated.”
Should this all manifest, it wouldn’t be Kroenke’s first transformation in Los Angeles. SoFi Stadium, which is owned by Kroenke and another joint venture, became the landmark structure of the master-planned Hollywood Park neighborhood in Inglewood.
Spanning nearly 300 acres, Hollywood Park is the largest urban mixed-use development under construction in the Western United States. When completed, it will have new apartment residences, public parks, a lake and entertainment venues, anchored by a retail district and creative office space. The long-term final buildout of Hollywood Park will include 2,500 homes, 900,000 square feet of office space, 890,000 square feet of retail and a 300-room hotel. The complex has 25 acres of open space featuring a six-acre artificial lake fronting SoFi Stadium.
Other amenities in that area include the Forum and the under-construction Intuit Dome that will host the L.A. Clippers.
In Woodland Hills, Rosenheim figured a sports facility wouldn’t be the only thing on Kroenke’s docket.
“I think it would be a great economic boost for the area and our plans for the future of being a transportation-technology zone,” he said. “Given all the land purchased, I think this will be much more than a Rams practice facility.”
Staff reporter Michael Aushenker contributed to this report.