San Diego Business Journal

New Look, New Name Comes to Carlsbad Mall

RETAIL: Westfield Continues Its Local and Global Upgrades By Lou Hirsh Monday, June 17, 2013

Westfield Group will soon embark on a renovation of its Carlsbad property that is expected to top $100 million, marking the mall operator’s fifth big local makeover in as many years.

Australia-based Westfield Group owns more than 100 malls worldwide, including seven in San Diego County. It recently received Carlsbad Planning Commission approval of plans for an extensive renovation of its Plaza Camino Real, which will carry the name Westfield Carlsbad when work is completed by fall 2014.

The regional mall, now more than 40 years old, will also sport a new 40,000-square-foot location of 24 Hour Fitness, which is relocating from another location near the center; as well as a new 12-screen, high-tech movie theater being developed by Regal Entertainment Group.

Jerry Engen, senior vice president of development in Westfield’s San Diego regional office, said the company is not disclosing exact projections for its investment in the Carlsbad property. But the tab will likely double the approximately $55 million that it spent on the renovation of its Westfield North County in Escondido, completed last year.

Buzzing With Work

“It’s really part of an ongoing program to keep renovating and refreshing these properties,” Engen said. “We’re doing it nationally as well as globally.”

The local region has been buzzing with work at Westfield-owned malls since 2008, when it completed a two-year expansion project at Westfield Plaza Bonita in National City. The firm continues to update its older centers to compete in a market where several national and regional operators have been investing in multimillion-dollar upgrades.

Last year it completed a $180 million renovation at Westfield UTC, part of a longer-range plan to make an estimated $1 billion in improvements to the site at University Towne Center, with more retail and residential elements in the works.

It is currently at work on a major renovation and reorientation of Westfield Horton Plaza, which will bring a Jimbo’s…Naturally grocery store among other new businesses to the downtown center later this year, and is working with the City of San Diego on a new public square park, with construction underway adjacent to the mall at Horton Plaza.

Engen said the Carlsbad renovation will include the property’s first-ever dining court area, and the company is in talks with several restaurant and retail store operators to join the center’s roster. The project is scheduled to go before Carlsbad City Council in July, and Westfield is aiming to begin work by the end of summer.

Complete Upgrade to Center

Following a considerable makeover, 24 Hour Fitness and the new movie theater will occupy the center’s long-vacated Robinsons May department store building.

According to a Carlsbad city staff report, the renovation involves reconfiguration or reconstruction of approximately 225,000 of the mall’s 1.1 million square feet of leasable commercial space. The modernizing will include a complete upgrade of the center’s entrances, facades, walkways, lighting and other fixtures.

Plaza Camino Real is located off El Camino Real, near the city’s northern border with Oceanside. It was first expanded about 10 years after its initial construction in 1969, the city report said.

The mall’s anchors include Macy’s, Sears and JC Penney. Engen said the renovation will have some elements similar to the Escondido project, although the Carlsbad design will reflect the center’s coastal location.

Engen said changes remain in progress at centers where the company has completed the main renovation work. For instance, by year’s end, The Cheesecake Factory will open at Westfield North County, and locally based home improvement retailer Fixtures Living will debut at Westfield UTC.

“Even where the construction is basically done, something new is always coming in,” Engen said of the company’s local malls.