Westfield tries to bail on Fulton Center halfway through lease

Shopping mall operator: Fulton is “financially unsustainable”

Westfield Trying to Quit Fulton Center Halfway Through Lease
From left: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Jean-Marie Tritant and New York City Transit Authority president Richard Davey along with the Fulton Center (Getty, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0 - via Wikimedia Commons)

The Westfield Corporation wants to escape the Fulton Center early, a decision the New York City Transit Authority won’t take sitting down.

The NYCTA filed a lawsuit on Thursday in federal court seeking to block the subsidiary of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield from terminating its lease, Bloomberg reported

The CRE and shopping center management company told the transit authority of its plans to cease operations at the Lower Manhattan commuter hub several weeks ago.

Westfield signed a 20-year lease roughly a decade ago to manage leasing at the Fulton Center. The transit hub — which connects nine subway lines and PATH trains to New Jersey in an underground passageway — features 63,000 square feet of commercial space, mostly for retail use. 

A representative of Westfield told the transit authority that the center did not “work for” the company. In a later letter, Westfield’s lawyers said its operations at Fulton Center were “financially unsustainable.”

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Westfield has the right to terminate its deal early under certain circumstances, such as structural issues, but none of those circumstances apply, according to NYCTA. In its lawsuit, the transit agency said it would face “irreparable injury if Westfield abandons the Fulton Center.”

The Fulton Center is one of the busiest transit stations in New York City, according to Westfield, counting 30,000 daily visitors. It was one of the early gleaming examples of how Lower Manhattan was going to rebuild after 9/11.

Across the street from the Fulton Center, Westfield also operates a shopping mall at the World Trade Center. But its parent company has been steadily reducing its exposure in the United States. Most notably, URW and Brookfield Properties surrendered the nine-story Westfield San Francisco Centre mall in the Bay Area last year.

Westfield didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment on NYCTA’s lawsuit.

Holden Walter-Warner