Westfield Corp. is rewriting the books on its Century City mall in an $800 million facelift that’s now seeing construction ramp up.
The mall owner and developer unveiled new details of its multiphase project at a kick-off event this evening that drew Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The goal: A project that will “redefine retailing on the west side of Los Angeles,” Westfield co-chief executive officer Peter Lowy told WWD.
The initial steps of demolition on the 1801 Avenue of the Stars office building began in March and accelerated this month to make room for what will eventually total about 1.2 million square feet upon construction completion. This represents the addition of 422,000 square feet for retail and restaurants. Parking will double to more than 4,700 spaces.
Nordstrom previously announced its intent to open a three-level flagship at the center along with remodeled Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. The latter will be decommissioned in January as it is rebuilt on the corner of Avenue of the Stars.
The first phase, which will include the opening of Macy’s and some 60 shops, is slated for completion toward the end of next year. A second phase of construction is expected to be complete by mid-2017.
New tenants are expected, although Lowy was vague on specifics.
“There will be a ton of new tenants coming online,” he said. “It will be in essence a…brand new mall and you won’t recognize it.”
The company estimates roughly 25 percent of retailers will be first-to-market concepts.
The mall currently counts 107 tenants and will expand to more than 200 once construction is complete. There will also be some 55 restaurants, which will account for about 25 percent of the overall tenant mix. Dining options currently make up between 10 and 12 percent of the overall mall, according to Lowy.
This boost to the tenant merchandising mix, Lowy said, gives the mall a competitive advantage within a retail landscape that includes competition from Taubman Centers’ Beverly Center, The Grove owned by Caruso Affiliated and Macerich’s Santa Monica Place.
“It will be the broadest selection of retailers on the west side,” he said. “There are two things [that will set the mall apart]. One is the design of the mall — the feel of it and the open spaces [along with] the interior design and the emphasis on food. The other thing to keep in mind is that in Century City itself there’s some 10 million square feet of offices within four blocks of the mall.”
Buzz has already built up around the signing of Eataly, with Century City its first West Coast location.
There’s also a unique design aesthetic that will come from Los Angeles-based interior designer Kelly Wearstler in a move Westfield executives hope will create a space that cancels out the surrounding traffic from Santa Monica Boulevard and looming office towers. The look is being described as Southern California, casual luxury.
“Century City traditionally has been an open-air mall, but if you spent time there, the mass of buildings overwhelmed the open space,” Lowy said. “What we’re creating is an outdoor mall where you’ll be able to come in and actually feel as if you’re not in an urban environment.”
It will also be a tech savvy experience with free Wi-Fi and multiple apps now in development. It’s unclear just how many apps the mall owner is developing for Century City with Lowy saying it’s too early to tell.
A dining app will cater to the nearby office workers, allowing them to order lunch, for example, and then set their pick-up time or have it delivered to their work. A parking app will direct customers to parking entrances. The company’s also allocating space in the mall for customers to pick up items purchased online without even having to walk the store. Westfield is currently testing the concept at Westfield London in a program called CollectPlus.
“What we’re trying to do and what we’re moving to,” Lowy said, “is to use technology to enhance the customer’s visit and make it easier for them and allow them to do a range of things they couldn’t do before.”