Westfield rakes another WTC mall tenant over coals

Mall owner suing Retail Worx for unopened beer garden

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Jean-Marie Tritant and World Trade Center Mall (Getty Images, SpaceEconomist192, CC BY-SA 4.0 - via Wikimedia Commons, URW)
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Jean-Marie Tritant and World Trade Center Mall (Getty Images, SpaceEconomist192, CC BY-SA 4.0 - via Wikimedia Commons, URW)

The beer kegs were never tapped at Proper Hall in the World Trade Center Mall, allegedly leaving Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield high and dry.

The shopping mall giant sued Retail Worx for skipping out on rent at the property, the Commercial Observer reported. Retail Worx was supposed to open Proper Hall, a beer garden, at a 4,800-square-foot outpost in the mall.

Westfield alleged the tenant has missed $1.6 million in rent, missing payments since last February. Westfield also said it agreed to give $3.5 million in tenant improvement allowances so Retail Worx could renovate the space. The company paid $850,000 to Retail Worx, as well as a $60,000 broker fee.

Retail Worx signed its 15-year lease with Westfield in 2019, but the beer garden never opened, leading Westfield to cancel the lease in April. The mall owner is suing for more than $2.5 million.

Suing tenants at the mall has become old hat for Westfield. A year ago, it sued Starbucks for $5.2 million after alleging the coffee chain tried to break its lease seven years early. Westfield has since revoked the lease.

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Other tenants Westfield has gone after in recent years include Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret and Special Bowl, to varying degrees of success. The Banana Republic case was settled out of court, while Westfield won a $1.6 million judgment from Special Bowl; the Victoria’s Secret case was dismissed.

Westfield’s frequent trips to court due to problems at the mall may soon become a thing of the past. Last year, the company announced plans to “radically” reduce operations in the U.S. and planned to shed its portfolio of regional shopping centers.

This week, the French company sold the 1.5-million-square-foot Westfield Santa Anita complex in Arcadia, California for $538 million, the largest retail sale in the company since 2018. The buyer of the property has not been disclosed.

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— Holden Walter-Warner