New Shops at Westfield's Roseville Mall; What About Downtown?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, November 17, 2008

If the Galleria is Westfield’s poster child, the Downtown Plaza might be the ugly stepsister.  Just last week, the Galleria unveiled 48 new shops, like upscale fashion designer Louis Vuitton.  But its Downtown Sacramento mall remains untouched.  Matt Mahood is with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.  He wishes the company would invest on K Street the way it has in Roseville.
Mahood:It’s great that Westfield is investing in the region, but I would like to see them reinvest in Downtown Plaza.  There’s a great opportunity for them to draw more people into downtown and to take advantage of all the employees who are downtown all day long.” 
Westfield did announce plans a couple of months ago to renovate the Downtown Plaza.  They include moving the food court and adding new retail shops.  Not everything is moving smoothly; Target canceled plans for a new store there.  But Leslie Fritzsche with the city of Sacramento’s economic development department says construction should start in the spring.
Fritzsche:I think we have a good working relationship with Westfield.  The city has approved all of the entitlements necessary for the project, and we are anxious for them to begin.” 
Westfield representatives didn’t return repeated phone calls.  But in September, the company said it hopes to finish downtown renovations by the time the economy improves.  Keith Kaplan is Westfield’s Sacramento region development director.
Kaplan:Westfield’s strategy is to buy centers – existing centers – and either revitalize them, reposition them, redevelop them.  That’s what we do.  This center, granted, took a little bit longer than most centers, but we very rarely walk away from a center when we sense it’s an opportunity.” 
Still, when it comes to priorities, money sends a pretty clear message.  Westfield is spending $240 million in Roseville.  But asked in September about the company’s Downtown Plaza investment, Kaplan would only say it was “significant” and “in the millions of dollars.”