Fences cover up some of the expansion projects at Westfield Century City.

Fences cover up some of the expansion projects at Westfield Century City. Photo by Thomas Wasper

The Westfield Group is gearing up for a $500 million makeover of its Century City shopping center – already one of the top performers in the country – at the same time it plans to move its U.S. headquarters closer to its prized outdoor mall.

The Sydney, Australia, mall developer is slated to sign a lease with landlord JP Morgan Chase & Co. this month to move from its longtime Brentwood offices into the Century Plaza Towers, at 2029-2049 Century Park East.

“Similar to Westfield’s Sydney headquarters, where the office is ‘on top of the shops,’ the objective is greater proximity to a flagship property,” said Katy Dickey, Westfield’s executive vice president of corporate communications, in an e-mail.

One of the world’s largest mall owners, with 118 properties and $4 billion in global revenue, Westfield has been refocusing its corporate strategy to develop high-end urban malls – and improve those it already has – with particular interest in its U.S. locations.

That’s a description that fits the 800,000-square-foot Westfield Century City shopping center, the company’s top performing U.S. mall. It generated $920 a square foot in sales last year, one of the highest figures of any mall in the country.

Now, Westfield wants to expand the retail complex by building a second story with more shops. It also would demolish two adjacent office buildings and replace them with a separate parking structure and a 39-story residential tower with retail on the bottom floors. Commercial offices would be added to the mall structure to replace some of the space lost from the office buildings.

The company plans to begin the project later this year and complete it by 2017.

Gary Horwitz, managing director for brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s El Segundo office, said he was not surprised that Westfield was moving its headquarters to Century City.

“I can guess that it’s going to be advantageous to be living it and walking it every day,” said Horwitz, who is not involved in the project. “It’s like any tenant who wants to be near its customers. There are just synergies that are created with that physical proximity.”

Small move, big plans

Westfield plans to move into about 80,000 square feet at the Century Plaza Towers, a reduction from the 135,000 square feet it has occupied at 11601 Wilshire Blvd. in Brentwood, where its lease expires in the spring.

Terms of the lease are not known, but if the deal is signed this month, the company could begin moving into the space as early as this year, sources told the Business Journal, just as work on the mall property begins in earnest.

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