REAL ESTATE

Hecht: New Century City is watershed moment for Westfield

BY Al Urbanski

Westfield COO Bill Hecht looks at the billion-dollar re-do of the company’s Century City Mall in Los Angeles and sees the dawning of a new era in retail.

Bill Hecht

“We believed that, with Century City, we had the opportunity to evolve it into the next generation of retailing,” said Hecht on the occasion of the re-opening of the renovated mall. “We had a fantastic customer base and location. We have tourists, a local office population, and the Beverly Hills and Bel Air crowd that have always felt that Century City was their place to shop. We were able to approach this set with a blank canvas.”

The renovation added more than 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space to Century City, bringing the destination’s total to 1.3 million sq. ft. shared among what will be a total of about 230 shops upon final completion. The tenant mix reflects a change that Westfield says it will be bringing to all its malls, a formula that blends fitness, grocery, healthcare, and dining to luxury retail to make for a sort-of high-end necessity-based center.

The new Century City boasts the West Coast’s first Eataly, a new Nordstrom and Macy’s, a renovated Bloomingdale’s, an Equinox fitness club, a Gelson’s upscale supermarket and a 15-screen AMC Theatres, Coming soon: a health-and-wellness center from UCLA focused on preventive care.

Redone common areas and interiors will be graced by art works on loan from the Annenberg Center for Photography and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Permanent works will also be in residence from sculptors such rounded-form master Jun Kuneko and as Stan Bitters with his ceramic work “California DNA.”

“We were really sensitive to what our customers wanted, which could be summed up in two words: California Soul,” Hecht said. “You can walk into a center and feel the warm and fuzzies or you can not feel good at all. Now you go into Century City and you feel good.”

Westfield is investing plenty in spreading those California good vibrations. Another billion-dollar re-make is underway at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara and a $600 million renovation will be unveiled later this year at Westfield UTC in San Diego.

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REAL ESTATE

CBL malls to close on Thanksgiving

BY Al Urbanski

When holiday shopping madness kicks off on Thanksgiving Day, at least 121 malls will be sitting on the sidelines.

CBL Properties has announced that it will repeat the decision it make last year to let employees at malls across 27 states remain home to enjoy the annual feast with family and friends.

“The support that we received last year when we made this decision was overwhelmingly positive,” said CBL president and CEO Stephen Lebovitz. Feedback from retailers, CBL employees, and shoppers led CBL executives to the same decision this year.

CBL is giving the option to department stores, movie theaters, restaurants and other tenants with exterior entrances to open on Thursday, Nov. 23. The remaining areas of the malls will be open for business bright and early on Black Friday, with tenants cleared to open at 6 a.m.

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ESPN to broadcast from HHC’s Seaport District NYC

BY Al Urbanski

ESPN will open a 19,000-sq.-ft. broadcast studio at Howard Hughes Corporation’s re-do of Manhattan’s South Street Seaport in spring of 2018.

Working out of Pier 17 at the waterfront development now titled Seaport District NYC, the cable sports network will produce several studio shows and radio broadcasts from the location. ESPN is likely to take advantage of Pier 17’s rooftop space for New York location shots when it opens next summer, HHC reported.

“Television goes where the audience is, and the historic Seaport welcomes millions of New Yorkers, visitors, and potential audience members each year,” said Barry Katz, general manager NEP Group, ESPN’s New York studio partner.

HHC colored Pier 17’s illuminated exterior ESPN red last night to celebrate the signing.

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