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Westfield Proposes $900M UTC Mall Upgrade

Westfield is announcing plans Aug. 9 for a $900 million remodel of its UTC mall in University City , the first major revitalization of the 30-year-old shopping center in two decades.

The proposed revitalization features the addition of 750,000 square feet of retail space for new and remodeled anchor stores, a state-of-the-art cinema, 150 new specialty shops and boutiques, new public outdoor plazas, upgraded parking, a variety of housing opportunities and a regional transit center with a future link to the trolley.

The remodeled mall also will be going green, with solar arrays on rooftops, increased use of recycled water for irrigation, energy-efficient lighting programs, in partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric Co., sustainable, recycled and locally sourced building materials, enhanced bicycle and pedestrian access to the center, and a modern transit center to accommodate future options, including bus, bus rapid transit, shuttle and trolley service.

As for the financial impact of the project, Westfield , which operates seven shopping centers in San Diego County , expects that $60 million in annual tax revenues will be generated upon completion; $9 million annually for city services, such as police and fire protection, parks and libraries; $25 million for transportation and capital improvements in the University City area; an additional $260 million for local and regional road, freeway and transit improvements, in the 40-year life of TransNet, the half-cent sales tax for local transportation projects; 3,000 new permanent jobs, for a total of 6,000 jobs at UTC; and 5,500 design and construction jobs.

Westfield filed the master planned development permit application with the city of San Diego in November. A draft environmental impact statement was issued Aug. 9, but Westfield still has a few more hoops to jump through, including further review and approvals, as well as public hearings before the city. If the project gets greenlighted, Westfield expects to start work in 2008.

Westfield UTC is a joint venture between Westfield and a commingled fund advised by JPMorgan Asset Management. The Westfield Group is an Australian-based company with interests in 121 shopping centers in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

, Pat Broderick

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