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Westfield Santa Anita sells for $537.5 million, the biggest mall sale in years

·2 min read
ARCADIA, CA - OCTOBER 07, 2020 - A young girl looks in as customers, as seen through a reflection, return to indoor shopping at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia on October 7, 2020. This is the first day customers were allowed to return to indoor shopping after Los Angeles County eased restrictions and have reopened the malls and the individual stores. Such stores have been closed for weeks, but reopened Wednesday at 25% capacity. Westfield Santa Anita has placed Covid-related signage with one-way traffic, 6 feet distancing when waiting to get into individual stores, hand sanitizing stations and mask are required before entering the mall. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, shown in 2020, has been sold to an undisclosed buyer for $537.5 million. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Westfield Santa Anita has changed hands in one of the most expensive mall sales in years as its Paris-based owner moves to unload its U.S. properties and retrench in Europe.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield sold the large indoor shopping center in Arcadia for $537.5 million, the French mall company said.

It was the highest price paid for a U.S. mall since 2018, according to real estate investment bank Eastdil Secured, which advised Unibail-Rodamco in the sale. That year, real estate giant Brookfield sold a 49% stake in Fashion Place near Salt Lake City for $594 million, which Brookfield's real estate chief told investors "was a very healthy price."

The identity of the Arcadia mall buyer was not disclosed, but Unibail-Radamco said the new owner "is an established commercial real estate investor who owns other retail assets in Southern California."

Selling the mall near the famed Santa Anita Park horse-racing venue was part of Unibail-Rodamco's planned "radical reduction of its financial exposure in the U.S.," the company said.

The owner of Westfield malls, familiar to passersby for decades for their bright-red logo signs, said in April it would sell all its properties in the U.S. and bet its future on Europe, where it is the largest owner of shopping centers.

All 24 U.S. malls are to be sold by 2023, Chief Executive Jean-Marie Tritant told investors at the time. The company will become a “focused, European pure-play,” he said.

Westfield Santa Anita was widely regarded as one of the crown jewels of the Westfield chain. The 1.5-million-square-foot property on Baldwin Avenue is 96% leased, with sales of more than $600 per square foot on an annualized basis, Eastdil said, a measure of successful mall activity.

Other high-profile Los Angeles-area properties in the chain include Westfield Century City and Westfield Topanga & the Village in Warner Center.

Westfield Santa Anita has 23 buildings and was completed in phases between 1974 and 2009, real estate data provider CoStar said. Current tenants include Nordstrom, Zara, Lululemon, Macy’s and H&M.

“This transaction bodes well for the mall industry as a whole as it further demonstrates the private capital market’s recognition of the significant improvement in the sector’s operational performance,” Chris Hoffmann, managing director of Eastdil, said in a statement.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.