by admin

LA JOLLA, CALIF. — Westfield UTC in La Jolla is unveiling a newly upgraded mall today, during a celebrity-hosted grand opening party. The shopping center underwent a 14-month, $180 million renovation, adding new retail stores, restaurants, resort-style amenities and a luxury movie theater.

Along with the renovations, crews added 40,000 square feet of new space to the more than 1 million-square-foot shopping center. Westfield Group acquired the open-air mall in 1998, which is located near the University of California, San Diego campus.

Since the renovation began, Westfield UTC added several new retailers including Tiffany & Co., J. Crew, Vans, Ben Ridge/Rolex, Kiehl's, The Art of Shaving, Sarku Sushi Bar and Deco Floral.

Additionally, five retailers opened their first locations in the San Diego market at Westfield: Splendid, Tesla Motors, ArcLight Cinemas, Eureka! Burger and Seasons 52.

The renovation was designed to give the mall a “retail-resort inspired experience, including alfresco dining, new shops and entertainment,” the company states. The San Diego City Council initially approved plans for a full-scale renovation of the property in 2008, but the project was delayed due to the recession.

In addition to the upgrades, the project also aims to achieve LEED Gold certification. Environmentally friendly features include high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and “cool roof” technology to reduce the need for air conditioning.

Crews installed a new childrens' play space with family lounges, taller store facades and renovated the common areas. ArcLight Cinemas opened its new 14-screen, 52,000-square-foot theater earlier this month. It's the high-end movie chain's first location outside of Los Angeles and its fifth branch overall. The theater includes a cafe and bar.

Other highlights include a new 53,000-square-foot 24-Hour Super Sport Fitness Club (the company moved from a different location within the mall) and a newly expanded Forever 21, which is now 38,000 square feet.

With the construction wrapped up, Westfield Group projects that taxable sales are expected to increase by $127.5 million per year to a total of $500 million.

The development is also likely to pique the interest of additional retailers, as the San Diego retail market recently experienced its fifth consecutive quarter of positive net absorption, according to CBRE Group. In the third quarter of 2012, there was 70,000 square feet of positive net absorption, namely due to activity in power centers.

So far, the company has announced two big names for the grand opening event. This evening, Giuliana Rancic of “E! News” will host a runway fashion show at 7 p.m. Following the show, Natasha Bedingfield, known for her hit songs “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and “Unwritten,” will perform at 7:30 p.m.

Liz Burlingame

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