Westfield Group cemented its claim as a dominant shopping- mall owner on four continents on Tuesday, by opening its Westfield Stratford City shopping complex adjacent to the site of London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
The 1.9 million-square-foot project, touted by Westfield as Europe’s largest urban mall, spans 250 stores, 70 restaurants, a casino, a movie theater, three hotels and 130,000 square feet of office space. Its retail space is more than 95% leased. An estimated 150,000 people attended Tuesday’s opening.
Westfield Stratford City, developed at a cost of £1.45 billion ($2.3 billion), is owned 50% by Westfield and 50% by a partnership of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Dutch pension administrator APG Group.
“This solidifies our ability to do these major retail and mixed-use projects on a massive scale,” Peter Lowy, Westfield’s co-chief executive officer, said in an interview.
Westfield, based in Sydney, Australia, owns stakes in 56 malls in Australia and New Zealand, 55 in the U.S., eight in the U.K. and five in Brazil. The opening of its Stratford City project comes three years after Westfield opened its Westfield London mall on the city’s west side. Westfield London generates £1 billion in annual sales, a mark that Westfield expects the Stratford City mall to eventually hit.
Elsewhere in Europe, Westfield announced last month that it bought a site for a major mall in Milan, Italy, in partnership with Italy’s Gruppo Stilo. The partnership expects to start building the Milan project in 2012 or 2013 and finish it in 2015.
Meanwhile, Westfield’s months-old effort to sell some of the 17 U.S. malls it put on the market early this year has bogged down amid economic uncertainty and the challenges that would-be buyers face in arranging financing, people familiar with the matter said.
Among those still angling to buy the Westfield malls is Starwood Capital Group, which is eyeing 10 of the properties. A group led by mall-industry veteran Gregory Greenfield’s Greenfield & Associates Ltd. is considering as many as six of the malls, these people say. Westfield initially anticipated completing the sales by the end of this year, but now that is expected to stretch into next year. (credit, k, hudson,wsj)