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Mall Owner Scales Back Topanga Plans

Westfield Group is planning to scale back its development project at the Topanga mall, eliminating its residential portion, cutting the overall development area and possibly adding a Costco warehouse. While the mall developer is making major cuts to its original plan for The Village at Westfield Topanga in Canoga Park, which was initially submitted in 2007, it is adding a 146,640 square-foot anchor retailer. The anchor’s retail center would support a gas station, about 270,000 square feet of shopping center retail space, a tire center and food service space. A source confirmed that a Costco could occupy the anchor retailer space. Westfield Topanga mall spokeswoman Katy Dickey would not confirm whether Costco is the chosen anchor. A Costco warehouse store on Roscoe Boulevard currently serves the Canoga Park area, while others are in Northridge and Van Nuys. The refined project would reduce the size of the original 1.8-million-square-foot project by about 804,060 square feet. The new project eliminates a residential portion of the development. The plan would also reduce office space by 274,835 square feet and would reduce the proposed hotel from 300 rooms to 275 rooms. New retail uses would be reduced by about 9,585 square feet and restaurant uses by about 25,640 square feet. Grocery store and community-cultural uses would remain as originally planned. The new plan still includes an option to convert shopping center retail space to a 2,200-seat theater. Dickey said the recession played a role in the mall’s decision to scale back. “We believe this plan is responsive to community feedback and reflective of the changing economy and changing demands,” Dickey said. “I think it’s also a reflection, too, of Westfield’s confidence in the region and retail confidence in this region that the market is there.” A contrast Eli Shtrum, vice president of Encino-based illi Commercial Real Estate, said the possible addition of a Costco warehouse would create a major change to the mall’s current image. “I think there’s been a push for higher-end stores with the Crate and Barrel opening up and with the Nordstrom there,” said Shtrum, who leases commercial properties adjacent to the Westfield Topanga mall. “I think the Costco’s a definite contrast,” he added, referring the possibility of the store being chosen as the anchor retailer. However, Shtrum said the possible addition of a more general-audience retail store would fall in line with what is happening in the larger-scale area surrounding the mall. “Tenancy has been upgraded in the last five years,” Shtrum said. “The mix of tenants has been getting better.” Dickey said a major focus for Westfield Topanga is maintaining a range of retail opportunities. “It’s the only mall in the company that has a Neiman Marcus and a Target,” she said. “That’s our philosophy. We want to provide the widest range of the choice, good services (and) amenities.” Timeline The refined plan proposes to implement the project in two phases. The anchor retailer, some shopping center retail and some restaurant space would be implemented in a first phase, expected to be completed in 2013. The rest of the project would be completed in a second phase, expected to be completed in 2016. The refined project would also include surface parking and multi-level parking facilities with more than 3,000 parking spaces upon construction completion. The new project also calls for the removal of the existing low-rise commercial buildings on the site, excluding the Crate & Barrel store and one office building in the northeastern portion. Westfield Topanga officials notified local residents of the changes in a letter dated July 6.

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