As Westfield prepares for its $16 billion sale, there’s been a change in leadership at its challenged flagship mall development at the World Trade Center.
Michael McNaughton, who joined the mall real estate investment trust in 2015 to oversee development of the World Trade Center mall, left the company late last year. Westfield senior vice president John Marhsall, a company veteran who oversaw the $1 billion renovation of the firm’s Century City mall in Los Angeles, will come east to oversee the Lower Manhattan property.
A spokesperson for Westfield could not be immediately reached for comment.
McNaughton told The Real Deal that his decision to leave was in the works before Westfield struck a deal to sell itself to European mall REIT Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7 billion, and left the company on good terms to start his own firm.
“I wanted to follow a more entrepreneurial calling,” said McNaughton, who started his own retail-focused consulting firm, M2 Real Estate Advisors. “I’ve contemplated going out on my own in the past, but opportunities kept coming up.”
McNaughton said there’s a transition plan in place for Marshall to step in.
“Certainly, the pending sale puts them in a wonderful position,” he added.
McNaughton shepherded the World Trade Center mall through a complex and delayed construction process to completion, but the property is still faced with challenges as Westfield works to get it up and running at full capacity.
Roughly 20 percent of the mall’s storefronts remained empty over the summer one year after it opened, as TRD reported.
McNaughton had previously been an executive vice president at General Growth Properties, and oversaw the spinoff of Rouse Properties from the REIT.