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Store Relocation Part of Mall’s Move in Bigger, Better Direction

After completing a $180 million renovation of its Westfield UTC mall in 2012, Westfield Group plans to embark later this year on further expansion at its University Towne Center property, which will feature a relocated and enlarged Nordstrom store.

Additional retail space and parking structures will be built on the western portion of the mall property, off Genesee Avenue, coinciding with the planned relocation that was recently announced by Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. An expanded Nordstrom is expected to open at the mall in 2017, with its current store remaining open until then.

Other new tenants and related details of the expansion will likely be announced later this year, said Jerry Engen, a senior vice president of development in Westfield’s San Diego regional office. Sydney-based Westfield Group has not announced its expected dollar investment in the UTC project.

Engen said the expansion could include a combination of a parking structure with underground parking. The building currently housing Nordstrom will likely be repurposed or replaced after the retailer moves.

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“We’re still working out the details on how we’re going to handle that,” Engen said.

Restaurant Returning to Nordstrom

The upcoming two-level, 145,000-square-foot Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) will incorporate the company’s latest design concepts, geared toward improving the shopping experience, said Erik Nordstrom, the company’s president of stores, in a statement.

Nordstrom’s current 130,000-square-foot store at Westfield UTC opened in 1984. The new location will include its own full-service restaurant, similar to those found at several of the retailer’s 117 full-line department stores nationwide.

“The store at UTC had a full restaurant when it opened, but it closed about 10 years ago,” Nordstrom spokeswoman Brooke White said. “So that’s something the customers in San Diego might appreciate about the new store.”

The upcoming Nordstrom is also expected to have its own specialty coffee and sandwich shop, either inside or adjacent to the store, similar to the shop next-door to the existing Nordstrom at UTC, White said.

Nordstrom also operates local full-line stores at Fashion Valley in Mission Valley, Westfield Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego, and Westfield North County in Escondido. In addition, it has four San Diego County locations of Nordstrom Rack, its chain of smaller off-price retail stores.

The company started in 1901 as a shoe retailer and now has 267 stores in 36 states. White said Nordstrom is not planning other renovations or expansions in the local region.

One of Several Mall Overhauls

Westfield UTC opened in 1977. Mall officials said recent improvements, including stores, restaurants and a luxury movie theater added in 2012, created 1,400 new jobs and more than $1 million in new annual tax revenue for the city of San Diego.

The Nordstrom announcement represents a “strong commitment” to UTC, said Greg Miles, Westfield’s U.S. chief operating officer. He said the new Nordstrom is part of an ongoing revitalization of the property, including new specialty shops, restaurants, entertainment and sustainable design features.

The UTC expansion is the latest of several San Diego County mall overhauls either completed or launched by Westfield Group during the past five years. Westfield owns or holds stakes in 99 shopping centers worldwide, including seven in the local region.

The company is in the midst of an extensive renovation of its Plaza Camino Real in Carlsbad, which will carry the name Westfield Carlsbad when work is completed by year’s end. Westfield officials have said that renovation will represent

an investment of more than $100 million.

Westfield is also working with the city of San Diego on a new Horton Plaza Park and public square, next-door to Westfield Horton Plaza, slated to open in 2015 with an interactive fountain, food pavilions and amphitheater.

In 2012, Westfield completed a $55 million renovation and expansion at Westfield North County.

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