Westfield announces UTC San Diego Mall Expansion

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ClownLoach
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Westfield announces UTC San Diego Mall Expansion

Post by ClownLoach »

Westfield is continuing to invest in UTC San Diego, one of their best properties worldwide. They are redeveloping the former Nordstrom property that was demolished a few years ago after the larger replacement store opened. They will be opening the new mall expansion in phases starting in 2026.

They are also beneficiaries of a major expansion by Seritage who has been converting their former Sears property into a series of new storefronts and restaurants with offices above. It appears the retail segment is almost completely leased.

Interestingly enough, Westfield is not having problems with homeless in some of these SoCal flagship shopping centers like others and I suspect theft is not as much of a problem either. A decade ago they announced they would gate all of their parking and have a nominal fee at selected centers. Many said this would be the kiss of death for all their centers that did this, but examples like UTC and Century City are busier now than ever before and feel very safe and secure. Sure you could theoretically use a stolen card to pay or whatever else, but they have the entrances and exits surrounded with cameras which make it easier to identify and catch thieves. I think this might also be responsible for keeping guests on property longer as they have a quick free parking period (I think it's an hour now) then they charge and the rate is capped after a few more hours. So basically once you're paying, you might as well stay and get dinner (especially if you choose a sit down who will validate) and enjoy the place which means more sales for every tenant. I have intentionally visited UTC more often since the big parking garages went up and fees began, it is actually much easier to find parking and the center is clean and safe.

Meanwhile, the Costa Verde center sits like a tomb across the street after evicting all of their active and busy tenants including Bristol Farms and Barnes & Noble along with many restaurants and bars. Literally nothing has happened other than graffiti on the construction fences (and I'm sure inside the stores are being destroyed by homeless).

Probably another example of how good mall managers continue to expand their centers and add new tenants, while bad managers (like Brookfield and Simon since they deserve to be named) continue to just maintain their junky portfolio stores and defer maintenance, cleaning, etc. as they prolong their inevitable deaths.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcsan ... 7/%3famp=1
rwsandiego
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Re: Westfield announces UTC San Diego Mall Expansion

Post by rwsandiego »

I was wondering if/when the Nordstrom site repurposing would start. It doesn't surprise me that the former Sears is fully (or near-fully) leased. The mall is so busy that vacancies don't remain vacancies for very long.

UTC is an absolutely beautiful mall. My favorite, TBH. Even before the renovation that started back in 2014 (I think) it was beautiful. Last time I visited (2022) it was jam-packed, as it always was when I lived there. Despite passing Fashion Valley to get to UTC, it is where my friends and I would go if we wanted to do some shopping and grab a meal.

As for Costa Verde, that place was always an odd duck. Busy, but odd. It's a shame all of the tenants got evicted only to see the property sit vacant. All the owners had to do was renovate the stores' exteriors. Maybe the owners wanted a tax write-off. 🤷
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Re: Westfield announces UTC San Diego Mall Expansion

Post by ClownLoach »

rwsandiego wrote: April 22nd, 2024, 8:04 pm I was wondering if/when the Nordstrom site repurposing would start. It doesn't surprise me that the former Sears is fully (or near-fully) leased. The mall is so busy that vacancies don't remain vacancies for very long.

UTC is an absolutely beautiful mall. My favorite, TBH. Even before the renovation that started back in 2014 (I think) it was beautiful. Last time I visited (2022) it was jam-packed, as it always was when I lived there. Despite passing Fashion Valley to get to UTC, it is where my friends and I would go if we wanted to do some shopping and grab a meal.

As for Costa Verde, that place was always an odd duck. Busy, but odd. It's a shame all of the tenants got evicted only to see the property sit vacant. All the owners had to do was renovate the stores' exteriors. Maybe the owners wanted a tax write-off. 🤷
When they first started going vertical on all the parking lots and said they were switching primarily to garages except the Sears side I was concerned. But Westfield did a fantastic job expanding and extending the mall. Those surface parking lots that were replaced had long aisles, felt like the old Disneyland lot without a tram. It is actually easier to find parking now and there are so many more restaurants and stores to choose from, and at a variety of price points not just high end. I agree it has completely surpassed Fashion Valley in my opinion as the top mall in San Diego. I expect once this phase is done then they will make a deal to go vertical on the back end of the complex where there are still large surface lots and expand again.

The Costa Verde developer's permit expired and they applied for reinstatement. We should be hearing something any day now if that is going to be granted. They were supposed to be building mixed use retail and biotechnology offices, and a large biotech firm bought into the project in 2022 long after the clearing and closing occurred. Apparently the local community, especially the folks who bought uber expensive condos in the new towers adjacent, are absolutely furious about this rotting eyesore which was supposed to be completed by late 2023. They can't blame COVID either because they closed the center at the end of 2020, if they were going to be delayed by the virus and issues then they should have left it open until they were ready to proceed with construction. Nobody was in any hurry to leave that I am aware of, Bristol Farms was doing very well there despite a real oddball layout from when Albertsons owned them and converted the store, building with funky varying ceiling heights and lighting along with aisles at an angle. I fear that those stores and restaurants have been destroyed by sitting vacant with homeless breaking in and also just the difficulty of the buildings sitting in the high humidity of the coastal marine layer. I would imagine that they are all filled with mold and decaying, so at this point there would be no way to just tear down the fences and reopen the businesses. I think the site has to be totally demolished at this stage. Even the small strip of stores that sat vacant at UTC waiting to be removed as part of this expansion were deteriorating. If you have any kind of building that is exposed to that salty mist and fog it has to constantly be painted, sealed, repaired, and air conditioned to remove humidity.

I wonder if they will be denied on their new permit. If I was Westfield I would swoop in and buy the entire property. They clearly have no interest in leaving or selling UTC, and I'm sure they have an abundance of businesses that would like to join them in another expansion. They could do sky bridges across underneath the train overpass.
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Re: Westfield announces UTC San Diego Mall Expansion

Post by rwsandiego »

ClownLoach wrote: April 24th, 2024, 8:58 am
rwsandiego wrote: April 22nd, 2024, 8:04 pm I was wondering if/when the Nordstrom site repurposing would start. It doesn't surprise me that the former Sears is fully (or near-fully) leased. The mall is so busy that vacancies don't remain vacancies for very long.

UTC is an absolutely beautiful mall. My favorite, TBH. Even before the renovation that started back in 2014 (I think) it was beautiful. Last time I visited (2022) it was jam-packed, as it always was when I lived there. Despite passing Fashion Valley to get to UTC, it is where my friends and I would go if we wanted to do some shopping and grab a meal.

As for Costa Verde, that place was always an odd duck. Busy, but odd. It's a shame all of the tenants got evicted only to see the property sit vacant. All the owners had to do was renovate the stores' exteriors. Maybe the owners wanted a tax write-off. 🤷
...If I was Westfield I would swoop in and buy the entire property. They clearly have no interest in leaving or selling UTC, and I'm sure they have an abundance of businesses that would like to join them in another expansion. They could do sky bridges across underneath the train overpass.
You wrote what I was thinking: do something like "Bridge of Gardens" (which I always want to say in the recitation pose using the TV announcer voice) at South Coast Plaza and build an addition where Costa Verde used to be.

Wasn't there already a bridge over Genessee before the trolley station was built?

The original plan for UTC was to add apartments to a renovated mall. This was YEARS ago. I think it was at the start of Jerry Sanders' first term as mayor or just before Dick Murphy resigned.
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