For your consideration: Westfield Mall has yet another new name and owner, Bed Bath and Beyond closes stores, former Yale women’s soccer player goes zero waste at Encinitas….
Meet the new Westfield Mall, sort of the same as the old mall except…
Escondido’s Westfield Mall has been sold to a California partnership that hopes to revitalize the nearly 40-year-old center with new shops, restaurants and entertainment options.
The mall’s lease was acquired by Los Angeles-based San Jose-based Steerpoint Capital and Bridge Group Investments, who just last year acquired three other malls, all of which are gated malls like Escondido’s.
The change in ownership comes as Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield divests its interests in the United States. Last year, the company sold its Westfield Santa Anita mall in Arcadia for more than $537 million. The acquisition cost of the North County lease was $57 million, said Bo Okoroji, managing partner of Steerpoint.
“We believe the (Escondido) market lacks community entertainment, so we’re going to lean on that, but we want to engage the city and community to understand what they’re looking for,” Okoroji, who previously served as acted as head of US investments at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said on Friday. “We want to integrate additional retail, entertainment, dining and theater options. The nearest theater is 10 miles away, so we believe there is a theater and entertainment gap in the market and hope to find a use that works well.”
While the mall will be known as the North County Mall for now, Okoroji said there are plans to rename the center later this year after taking into account feedback from local stakeholders.
The center, which opened in the mid-1980s, was developed by Ernest Hahn, who also developed the now-closed Horton Plaza shopping mall in downtown San Diego. Escondido Mall occupies approximately 83 acres of land at the southern end of town, with all but 9 acres owned by the city. Macy’s department store is spread over 8 separately owned acres. More than 100 shops and places to eat and drink are housed in the mall.
Of the original six anchor stores in the centre, only two remain – Macy’s and JC Penney.
Recently, Sears and Nordstrom ceased operations, and the city is in the process of working with Costco to occupy the Sears property.
There are no plans yet for the vacated Nordstrom, said Jennifer Schoeneck, Escondido’s associate director of economic development.
“Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield worked for several years to sell their US assets, so they did not invest additional resources in this property,” Schoeneck said. “So I think this signals a new chapter for the mall.”
Bridge Group Investments, founded in 2004 by the Mersho family and working with Speerpoint, has invested more than $400 million in retail, industrial and multifamily real estate.
“We’ve grown our family business from one store to more than 170 across the United States, so we know firsthand what it takes to be successful in retail,” said George Mersho, managing partner of Bridge Group Investments, in one Explanation. “That’s why we have such great confidence in Steerpoint Capital’s strategy. They understand that consumer expectations of retail space are fundamentally changing and, like us, believe there is a unique opportunity to reinvigorate properties like North County Mall and generate significant returns.”
Bridge and Steerpoint have hired Spinoso Real Estate Group to manage the mall and retained the mall’s existing manager, Schoeneck said.
Joshua Ohl, director of market analytics at CoStar Group, agrees there are many ways to reposition the Escondido mall.
“Consumers have shown increasing interest in experiential retail spaces and this could be an opportunity to advance that element,” he said. “San Diego’s retail market has entered 2023 in a very strong position with little to no supply pressure on the horizon. I think there will be many North County residents who will be excited by the potential.”
Schöneck pointed out that no apartments are allowed on the city-owned site unless voters would pass a voting measure allowing that use.
No more Bed, Bath & Beyond for you
Retailer Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close an additional 87 stores across the United States, including three in San Diego County, as the company faces likely bankruptcy proceedings.
“As we work with our advisers to consider multiple paths, we are implementing actions to manage our business as efficiently as possible,” the company said in a statement provided to City News Service on Wednesday. “We continue our analysis of our store footprint based on a variety of factors, and together with our advisers, have identified additional Bed Bath & Beyond store closures that we will implement in a timely manner. We will update all stakeholders on our plans as they develop and finalize.”
The latest round of closings — announced by the company Monday — comes on the heels of August’s announcement of 150 store closings.
The following San Diego County locations are slated for closure:
- Carlsbad, 1905 Calle Barcelona, suite 100;
- San Diego, 10537 4S Commons Drive, suite 170; and
- San Marcos, 165 S. Las Posas Road.
Bed Bath & Beyond reported last week that it received a notice of default from lender JPMorgan Chase.
“At this time, the company does not have sufficient resources to repay the amounts under the credit facilities and this will lead the company to consider all strategic alternatives, including restructuring its debt under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,” the company said, CNN reported.
The latest 87 closings include five buybuy Baby locations and the last 49 Harmon Face Value stores, which sold cosmetics.
Getting the scoop on bringing your own bag to the store
After studying nutrition in Australia, Katie Fletcher came home to San Diego looking for package-free grocery shopping options, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
“I figured the idea existed and I just hadn’t known about it yet,” said Fletcher, who is originally from Solana Beach. “And so I kept searching bulk food, San Diego package-free grocery for years and nothing came up. So eventually I was like I’m just going to make it happen myself because I genuinely wanted it to exist in our community.”
In January, the former Yae women’s soccer player, opened Local Scoop on South Coast Highway in downtown Encinitas, which requires customers to bring their own containers to fill with products that are charged by weight at checkout. The store is also hosting a grand opening wellness day on Feb. 26 from 1 to 5 p.m., with vendors from the store and other companies from around the community.
Local Scoop shares space with the Nada Shop, a zero-waste store that opened in 2019 and focuses more on bath and body products.
“It just started with trying to find vendors that aligned with the values I wanted to have in the store,” Fletcher said. “So using sustainable packaging, selling in bulk quantities so there was less packaging and more affordable prices. I wanted the food to come from as close to California as possible, and there to be a clear line of transparency of where the food was coming from if it was out of state. So wherever I could find local, and in California especially, I did, and then beyond that it’s mostly Pacific Northwest or closer.”
Local Scoop is located at 937 S. Coast Highway 101, Suite C110, in Encinitas. For more information, visit localscoopbulkfoods.com.
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