Susan Luzzaro 8:14 a.m., May 23
Whether the half-cent sales tax had passed or not, it appears the 130,000 square feet of retail space in the old Robinson's department store in Horton Plaza is not far away from the wrecking ball.
Roger Showley reported this morning (Nov. 4) that Westfield Group offered to demolish the old department store near the remodeled Balboa Theatre and convert it into park land, in exchange for not making further annual payments to Centre City Development Corporation.
Westfield appears to be aware of Nathan Fletcher's SB 863 tax-increment cap removal amendment that may allow CCDC to divert an unlimited amount of new tax revenues from the City of San Diego to CCDC.
The estimated CCDC bailout of Westfield may be $35 million in canceled anticipated revenues between now and 2035, but those anticipated revenues to CCDC from Westfield seem high in light of declining Horton Plaza retail sales.
Without mentioning the hastily-made proposal only days after Proposition D's failure at the polls, Westfield Group's property portfolio for Horton Plaza currently states, "As part of a multi-stage, evolutionary revitalization, a portion of the center has been recently recrafted to house upscale fashion apparel retailers. Subsequent plans envision the complete transformation of the former Robinson’s-May into flagship retail space, extensive remodeling of the venue to enhance its ambience and elegance, along with the creation of improved street connections to better integrate the center into surrounding avenues" [emphasis added].
The Westfield Group proposal to take that much retail space off the local market comes as Westfield opens its new Sydney flagship shopping center in Australia. According to Australia's Business Spectator, Westfield Group Ltd will enter a pre-open trading halt pending the release of an announcement until the beginning of trade on November 8 or when an announcement is released.