Westfield drops Costco plan; city leaders disappointed by cancellation

Rendering shows a portion of the proposed Costco as part of the Patios Connection project at Westfield Valencia Town Center. The $100 million investment plans were scuttled not long after they were announced, in part due to the pandemic that followed not long after. Courtesy of Westfield

Westfield Valencia Town Center officials announced Monday they’re halting plans to expand the mall with a 101,000-square-foot Costco and other amenities.

“Like so many businesses, 2020 was a year like no other in Westfield’s history. Westfield moved quickly to adapt to the realities created by a global pandemic and the accelerated consumer trends for the retail industry,” read a statement released by Westfield Monday. “Part of this evolution is our strategic decision to bring to a close development plans for the Patios Connection Plan at the Valencia Town Center, which included a Costco. While this plan has come to a close, our commitment to Valencia Town Center continues.”

City of Santa Clarita spokeswoman Carrie Lujan confirmed that Westfield did have a conversation with the city and that they were aware of the Costco announcement.

With the Costco project now abandoned, Westfield officials said they intend to work with the city to pursue future mixed-use development on the Town Center property. Mixed-use development can include a blend of different types of uses, such as residential, commercial, entertainment, hotels and more.

Since the development, dubbed the “Patios Connection project,” was announced pre-pandemic, Westfield officials proposed changes in November, making the project significantly smaller by removing the gym and cinema features. At that time, Westfield attributed the cuts to issues surrounding the economic impact of the pandemic.  

Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda said he was frustrated by the news because the city had put in months of planning into the project, which city officials thought, up until very recently, was still going forward.

“I’m extremely disappointed because it was just recently that they downsized the project a little bit,” he said, “and gave us no indication whatsoever that they were going to discontinue the project.”

While Miranda said he understood the business side of the decision, he is disappointed in the communication with Westfield.

“Our community is going to be disappointed,” Miranda added. “We were hoping for and expecting … to get a Costco on this side of town.”

Westfield officials said they will continue to work with the city of Santa Clarita on their efforts to create a specific plan for the city center area, which would focus on creating new mixed-use development opportunities, a process set to begin in the summer of this year.

“We believe an investment in time and resources towards the city center specific plan process will help provide a forward-thinking and long-term vision that will continue to help elevate and diversify the Valencia Town Center,” the statement continued. “Westfield is committed to working with the city through their new specific plan process and look to continue to be a partner in the future growth and evolution of the city and its residents.”

However, Miranda said if these plans are starting from scratch, the process would go well into 2023.

“This is a project that didn’t just pop onto the drawing board,” he added. “No, this is a project that was planned over the last few years. We went through a lot of issues, and we were able to overcome them together. And here we are, basically being told that the project is dead. A lot of people put a lot of effort into this, and it’s very disappointing.”

The news follows talk that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield would begin selling its major U.S. properties by 2022, the company’s officials acknowledged during a February shareholders meeting, as they announced earnings were down by about 40%.

“We are assessing all potential options. At the end of the day, exposure to the U.S. will be minimal, if not zero,” URW Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marie Tritant said during a February press presentation.

In the meantime, URW is expected to continue selling its minor holdings that are not expected to benefit significantly from a post-pandemic rebound.

It remains unclear how the company’s broader news may affect the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

— Signal Managing Editor Perry Smith contributed to this report.

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