Centennial announces purchase of Valencia mall

The mall signs taken down as seen on Tuesday, 090523. Dan Watson/The Signal

Centennial, a Dallas-based retail real estate owner and operator, has agreed to terms for the purchase of the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield-owned Valencia Town Center for $199 million, according to a news release from the developer’s marketing firm. 

“Valencia Town Center is prime retail real estate with an L.A.-adjacent location in a prosperous and growing community, all of which makes it a tremendous asset for Centennial’s expanding portfolio of owned and managed properties,” Carl Tash, chief investment officer and senior executive vice president of Centennial, said in the release. “We do envision some changes for Valencia Town Center, similar to the strategic redevelopments taking place now at Hawthorn and Fox Valley in the Chicago area. While it is too soon to announce any definitive plans, Valencia Town Center is in the perfect location to become a multi-use live-work-play destination that seamlessly and aesthetically combines retail, restaurants, entertainment, luxury living and office space in a single master-planned campus.”  

The move, which has been rumored for months, means one of Santa Clarita’s most important economic drivers, known to most as the Valencia mall, is going to get a redesign and a big infusion of cash. 

The city, which began conducting outreach on a plan for the mall in April when it looked like Westfield might not be the landlord much longer, was happy to hear the mall had new stewardship in a statement issued Tuesday. 

“For over 30 years, the Valencia Town Center has been a critical part of our community,” Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs said in the statement. “The city is excited to work with the new property owner on imagining and creating a community asset that will strengthen our local economy and serve Santa Clarita positively for years to come.” 

Centennial, which owns, develops and leases out retail properties, touts a national portfolio of shopping, dining and entertainment locations like Westfield’s on its website that shows off a range of remodels it has planned.  

Giovanni Salinas, owner of Boho Western Boutique in The Shops at The Patios, said he was excited about the news of the sale, which he had just heard Tuesday afternoon. His women’s  clothing store specializes in trendy Bohemian and Western clothes. 

“I think it’s exciting because we do need new stores here,” said Salinas, who’s one month away from an anniversary at his location. “There are certain sides of the mall that really need to be amplified, so hopefully that will bring more customers.” 

Most recently, the company announced in July it had acquired the management contract for Mission Valley, the eastern half of what was known as Westfield Mission Valley, an approximately 1.1-million-square-foot open-air retail center in San Diego. 

“At Centennial, we have an incredibly talented team with a vision for the future of retail real estate that is second to none,” Whitney Livingston, president of Centennial, said in a news release about Mission Valley on its site. “Our success maximizing value for our partners and clients has propelled our growth in recent years. Today, Centennial owns or operates more than 22 million square feet of retail and mixed-use destinations in 15 states.” 

The city of Santa Clarita began its outreach about a new plan for the property back in April when it found that URW might sell the mall or, worse, walk away. 

That was just months after the French multinational corporation defaulted on the $195 million loan for the property in February, according to previous reports.  

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which announced a massive $100-million plan to renovate the Valencia mall shortly before the pandemic in 2019, touted how the retail developer is continuing to shed its U.S. assets as part of a global deleveraging strategy. 

“In completing the transaction, URW has contributed to its deleveraging target while partnering with Centennial and its lenders to establish an alternative to the transfer of ownership back to its lenders,” the release stated. The transaction value reflects a less than 3% discount to its last unaffected appraisal of the mall, which currently has an occupancy of 87%, according to URW. 

“We are committed to this shopping center and to the Santa Clarita community for the long haul, and with some creativity, we can reimagine this center, maximizing its potential for today and tomorrow,” Steven Levin, founder and CEO of Centennial, said in the release. “There is never anything cookie cutter about what we do at Centennial; when we approach a redevelopment, it is always in partnership with the community, taking the community’s wants and needs into account. While we contemplate changes for Valencia Town Center, we will strive to maintain the essence of what this center has always been to the city of Santa Clarita, building upon that to create a transformative and vibrant mixed-use campus that is attractive to locals and visitors alike.” 0

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