By  on October 12, 2009

Southern California’s Westfield Fox Hills shopping center has emerged from a $180 million makeover with a more upscale look and a new name, Westfield Culver City.

After more than 18 months of construction, the mall relaunched Thursday with 40 new retail tenants. The mix of stores includes Target, H&M, Coach, Aéropostale, Aldo, G by Guess, Best Buy and Hollister.

The two-level, 330,000-square-foot expansion brings the mall to a total of 1 million square feet of retail and 130 stores, and includes a dining terrace.

The cost of the project has ballooned since initial renovation plans were made public, from an estimated $100 million in 2006 to $180 million last year. Work began in early 2008 with an initial target completion date of late spring 2009. The mall stayed open during the renovation.

The expansion, which included the demolition and reconstruction of a Robinsons-May anchor store, has resulted in two new anchors — a 155,000-square-foot Target and a 45,000-square-foot Best Buy. More store launches are scheduled for 2010 and 2011.

The mall, which opened in 1975, was the first three-level center in California. Westfield Group acquired it for about $81 million in 1998 from TrizecHahn, and plans for a major renovation were revealed in 2000. An outdated merchandise mix and newer surrounding properties such as the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, which houses a Nordstrom Rack, restaurants and a luxury theater complex, had lured foot traffic from Fox Hills.

But the project was sidelined when then-anchor Sears pulled out. Five years later, Robinsons-May closed, a casualty of Federated Department Stores’ $11 billion acquisition of the May Co. units.

As with other mall properties, the recession caused more upheaval, claiming stores such as Steve & Barry’s, which occupied the former Robinsons-May space.

Culver City — which is just outside Los Angeles and is home to Sony Pictures, apparel labels like Insight and Christian Audigier as well as a growing number of art galleries, cafes, upscale restaurants and wine bars — has made a comeback.

The area “has become so amazing, with the new businesses and new residents; it has seen a renaissance over last decade and we wanted the center to reflect that,” said Westfield spokeswoman Katy Dickey.

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