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Santa Ana’s MainPlace mall sold in $1.1 billion deal including four other malls nationwide

Santa Ana’s MainPlace mall sold in .1 billion deal including four other malls nationwide

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Westfield MainPlace mall in Santa Ana, one of five malls sold in a $ 1.1 billion deal, will likely undergo changes after the new operators evaluate local needs and interests, said a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Centennial Real Estate Company, one of the buyers. FILE: JEBB HARRIS, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Santa Ana’s Westfield MainPlace mall has been sold as part of a $ 1.1 billion deal that includes four other Westfield Corp. retail centers in Connecticut, Illinois and the state of Washington, the malls’ buyers announced Monday.

Global mall owner Westfield, which acquired MainPlace in 2002 as part of a $ 5.3 billion transaction involving 35 properties, will retain 20 percent interest in all five malls, a spokeswoman said. The deal closed on Friday.

The buyers include a partnership of Centennial Real Estate Company, Montgomery Street Partners and USAA Real Estate Company.

Montgomery Street is an affiliate of investor Richard Blum’s San Francisco-based Blum Capital Partners. USAA is a subsidiary of the USAA financial services company.

Dallas-based Centennial will be the managing company responsible for MainPlace’s daily operations.

Built in the 1950’s, MainPlace converted into an enclosed mall in 1987. Considered a super-regional mall, it has just over 1.1 million square feet, 200 stores and more than 10 million annual customers, said Jonathan Maher, the Westfield general manager who will stay on under the new owners.

The sale comes when malls are transforming from shopping centers to dining and entertainment centers where people go for an experience as well as to buy things, experts say.

MainPlace is now finishing up a $ 55 million renovation that transformed the Macy’s Men’s & Home into restaurants, a 24-Hour Fitness and a Round 1 Bowling & Amusement. The renovation also includes additional restrooms and a family lounge.

MainPlace “is not one that needs to be completely fixed,” Maher said. “We started the evolution. I think the intent of Centennial is to continue it.”

However, the new owners said that each of the five malls will be evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of their markets.

A Centennial spokeswoman said the company makes serving its local community a key focus in its operations. She said the new MainPlace operators will take into account what retail already exists here as well as local interests and needs.

Future development will include meetings with local officials and civic leaders, she said.

“Our goal is to provide a community hub and destination complete with the best available options in shopping, dining and entertainment,” Centennial CEO Steven Levin said in the company statement.

“A mall can’t just be about shopping anymore,” Levin added. “Understanding the needs of your market is the cornerstone of creating a one of a kind experience that guests can’t get online or anywhere else.”

People “have far more easy ways to shop and acquire food and services than by going to a shopping mall,” said Linda Berman, mall marketing chief of developer DJM Capital Partners.

The buyers didn’t reveal how much MainPlace was valued at, but Maher called it “the flagship” of the five malls.

The other four malls purchased are: Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, Conn.; Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, Ill.; the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Ill.; and Vancouver Mall in Vancouver, Wash.

The acquisition brings to seven the number of malls operated by Centennial.

Retail analyst Greg Stoffel noted that although MainPlace sits in a dense population center, the incomes in the immediately surrounding areas aren’t high. And it faces stiff competition both from the nearby Outlets at Orange (formerly the Block) and from future retail in the Platinum Triangle, he said

That said, it’s still a healthy shopping center.

“Look how long it’s survived,” Stoffel said. “They have a Nordstrum, a Macy’s and a Penneys. That’s a good combination for that market. It’s definitely not the worst center in Orange County. And it’s not the best.”

Register staff writer Paul Hodgins and Register news researcher Ian Wheeler contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7734 or jcollins@ocregister.com

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News