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Westfield Fashion Center Prepping for New Makeover

Westfield Fashion Square is getting a facelift. The Sherman Oaks shopping center recently began renovations on its new dining terrace, which is planned for completion in May. The space also will get new storefronts, new furniture, additional seating and revamped restrooms. New tenants Stone Oven and Great Khans, however, are moving in next month. Although customers won’t see the completely renovated food court until next year, they won’t have to wait quite that long to see other changes the mall has planned. This year, the shopping center will debut five new vendors that will include big-name retailers Michael Kors and Fossil. A new family lounge and a renovated play town for children are also slated for completion this year. While Westfield officials would not disclose the cost of the project, Juliet Mothershed, marketing director for Westfield Fashion Square, said the investment was “significant.” “It’s just part of the business,” Mothershed said. “You have to make sure your services and amenities match up with the customer needs and wants.” Over the past five years, the Valley has seen a significant upswing in mall expansions and store openings. With shopping centers like the Americana at Brand and Santa Monica Place popping up, and existing malls like Westfield Topanga and The Oaks revamping and expanding, competition between the neighboring centers is heating up. Because the mall is anchored by the U.S. 101 freeway and residential housing, expansion was not an option, Mothershed said. “We’re just taking what we have and making it better,” she said. The latest renovations of Fashion Square are long overdue. The mall has not had a facelift since the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Since its inception as a public company in 1960, Australia-based Westfield Group has made a name for itself in the world of retail property. The company’s portfolio includes 124 shopping centers worldwide and 25,000 retailers. When Westfield Group purchased the 850,000-square-foot space in 2002, the company was aware of the improvements that needed to be made, Mothershed said. “We accepted the shopping center with its challenges, always with the mindset that there were certain things we would just need to fix,” she said. With its outdated decor and limited seating, updating the food court was top-priority. The space, located on the second level on the south side of the building, is getting the largest share of the upgrade. The entrance to the food court, which serves as a main entrance to the mall, will be renovated. A tenant space will be converted to make way for additional seating. Once the renovation is complete, the food court will have 550 seats, double the current number. The restrooms in the dining terrace will also be renovated. A corridor will be added to allow access into the interior of the shopping center and more stalls will be added. Although the full project will not be completed until spring, new tenants Stone Oven and Great Khans will move in next month, joining the food court’s current line-up that includes La Salsa and Subway. Since moving to the Sherman Oaks area eight months ago, caregiver Vanessa Hurtarte said Fashion Square has become “her mall.” An avid fan of the clothing shops and salons, Hurtarte, 23, said she rarely visits the food court. That will change in the coming months, once the new tenants open their doors, she said. “I’m really excited they’re getting Stone Oven,” Hurtarte said. “This mall is really close to my house, so I’ll be eating there often.” The Sherman Oaks location will be Stone Oven’s sixth outlet in the Valley. Since opening its first location at Westfield Topanga 11 years ago, the franchise operator, known for its gourmet sandwiches and salads, has quickly expanded its Valley presence. James Moon, COO of Stone Oven, said the company has developed a following in the Valley and the local branches have seen steady increases in sales. Moon, who currently owns the Culver City and Thousand Oaks locations, said Fashion Square’s new dining terrace was one of the primary reasons he chose the location for his next venture. “It’s going to be a fresh new look and a fresh new feel so there’s a lot of opportunity there,” Moon said. Maritza Pichardo, 22, has worked for Victoria’s Secret at Fashion Square for three years. Pichardo said she has also noticed the mall “going in a better direction” and that the new food court and overall renovations will be helpful in bringing in a younger audience. “We have a good selection of stores and some new ones coming in, so I think we’re definitely getting there,” Pichardo said. “I think we’ll be seeing more families and teenagers.”

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