Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Westfield to step aside from Downtown Plaza

This has got to be the Mayor's biggest achievement of his first year in office but it's far from anything but talk at this point. Till a buyer is found who will pay Westfield asking price and also wants to dump millions of dollars into transforming the mall into something better, it will be many years till anything positive happens there. Congratulation Kevin, I hope you can make this work.

The following was posted on Mayor Johnson's website:

One interesting challenge of my job in Sacramento’s weak mayor system is dealing with high-level people from around the world. Frankly, it can be helpful when world-class executives overlook the fact that Sacramento has a weak-mayor government. Sometimes, it’s best not to dwell on our city’s weakness. A case in point is my dealings with Westfield, the world’s largest retail mall operator.

For years, the relationship between Westfield and City Hall could be summed up with one word: Disagreeable.

No more. I am proud to say I have developed a positive, special relationship with Westfield. I can meet with top executives and talk business on a level playing field.

This shows how personality can triumph over charter limitations.

The relationship with Westfield is crucial because Westfield controls a key part of our city – the Downtown Plaza shopping center, exclusive of Macy’s.

As Westfield’s position in the mall struggles, downtown also struggles.

My talks with Westfield executives were crisp, efficient, always respectful and professional. That’s how Westfield operates.

Simply, I asked Westfield to step aside from the Downtown Plaza if the company wasn’t in position to invest at a significant level. Obviously, I don’t want our city held hostage.

To its credit, Westfield agreed.

The next steps will be critical. Months ago, I assembled a team of city experts to create a new vision for the K Street corridor, including the Downtown Plaza.

Our team listened to public testimony and came up with an inspiring vision that includes reconnecting the downtown grid from the Sacramento River to the Convention Center.

Westfield shared some of the vision, but had concerns. Obviously, our dream is expensive. But we are not talking about wallpaper and light fixtures. We are talking about a re-imagined downtown: a huge project creating economic development and thousands of jobs.

Again, Westfield stepped up and said they respect Sacramento enough to cooperate in a sale or search for new investment.

Now it’s up to me to find the right investment and development groups to buy Westfield’s positions in Downtown Plaza.

These deals can be very complicated. We have a long way to go.

But the victory here is that the city and Westfield are approaching the future as partners, even if we agree to part ways. Westfield wants downtown to prosper even if the company leaves Sacramento.

That’s what relationships are all about.


Lunar said...

My god the mayor is a pompous windbag.

Eddie said...

Thank goodness somebody is finaly holding Westfield accountable. They've been promising a large investment since Westfield help sink the Mills proposal for the Railyar

--Jim B (Urban_E)