Westfield to shed SoCal malls, 12M sf of retail by 2024

Paris-based parent has 10 properties from LA to San Diego, also plans to unload rest of assets nationally

Unibail-Rodamco's Jean-Marie Tritant with Westfield Culver City and Westfield Century City (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Google Maps)
Unibail-Rodamco's Jean-Marie Tritant with Westfield Culver City and Westfield Century City (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Google Maps)

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is shedding its portfolio of malls in Southern California — along with the rest of its U.S. assets — as it narrows its focus to its core markets in Europe.

The Paris-based company told investors last month it would “complete a radical reduction of financial exposure to the U.S.” through this year and next and “emerge as a focused European pure play.”

Southern California is currently Westfield’s largest U.S. market, with 10 malls from Los Angeles to San Diego that combine for about 12 million square feet of retail space.

Unibail’s recent disclosures to investors are more extreme than a strategy detailed last year. In July, the company said it was planning a “radical reduction” of regional malls and would focus on its flagship locations.

The company owns six malls in the Los Angeles area: in Century City, Culver City, Sherman Oaks, Canoga Park, Arcadia and Valencia. Westfield had spent more than $1 billion renovating and expanding the 1.3 million-square-foot Century City complex, before the company was acquired by Unibail-Rodamco in 2018.

A roster of high-end retailers — including Kate Spade, Ted Baker and Tiffany & Co., and status gym Equinox — lease space at Westfield Century City, making it more high-end than Westfield’s other U.S. properties.

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Further south, the company owns malls in Mission Valley and La Jolla in San Diego, Escondido in North County and National City in San Diego’s South Bay.

Unibail has already started offloading properties in Southern California and across the country.

Last month, the company sold the 34-acre Woodland Hills Promenade to Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke for $150 million.

In San Diego, the company sold a 300-unit residential tower at UTC Westfield, its property in La Jolla, for $238 million, according to investor materials. Unibail held a 50 percent stake in the project, with JPMorgan also holding a stake. The owners spent $200 million building the project in 2019, taking advantage of under-utilized retail space.

On the other side of the U.S., the company has already handed over the keys to four Florida malls in foreclosure.

The fate of another U.S. flagship remains to be seen. On Market Street in San Francisco, the company owns a Westfield mall through a partnership with Brookfield. Unibail also has malls in New Jersey and Illinois. In New York City, the company operates and manages the Westfield at the World Trade Center, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.