AEI Guides LBG on San Fran-Area Mall Revamp

The consulting firm provided LBG Real Estate with assessments of The Hilltop Mall in Richmond, Calif., before the company’s purchase of the 1.1 million-square-foot property, and is staying on to help guide the shopping center’s redevelopment.
Hilltop Mall in Richmond, Calif.
Hilltop Mall in Richmond, Calif.

LBG Real Estate Cos. has big plans for its recent purchase, The Hilltop Mall in Richmond, Calif., and AEI Consultants is onboard to help. The consulting firm is providing LBG with a host of services for the reinvention of the 1.1 million-square-foot regional mall, located in metropolitan San Francisco’s East Bay area.

AEI has been working with LBG on Hilltop since the beginning, helping to pave the way for the real estate company’s acquisition of the East Bay shopping center in a joint venture with Aviva Investors in July 2017. “We were able to provide LBG with a comprehensive cost assessment that will help them to plan for the maintenance and redevelopment of the center going forward,” Holly Neber, CEO of AEI Consultants, told Commercial Property Executive. “Our assessments demonstrated that this asset offers a strong opportunity for value creation, and we were able to rule out any underlying environmental issues, which will help to save costs during the redevelopment.”

Hilltop first opened its doors in 1976, occupying 77 acres at 2200 Hilltop Mall Road. AEI saw great possibilities for the enclosed shopping center, despite the fact that it had gone into foreclosure roughly five years ago, partly as a result of high vacancies and low interest among shoppers. 

“When initially developed, this property was a hub of community activity for the East Bay, and we knew that potential remained today,” said Neber. “While retail centers in some suburban markets are shifting to other uses, such as data centers or shipping facilities, we believe this property has the potential to once again serve as a center for community life.”

Hilltop had already been rezoned to allow for additional retail and other offerings well before the change in ownership. LBG has rebranded the center, renaming it The Shops at Hilltop, but there’s much more in the property’s future than a new name. More retail space, as well as office accommodations and housing will eventually be added to the site. “By integrating retail and entertainment into a mixed-use environment, the property will meet the needs of local consumers seeking an opportunity to shop, dine and enjoy entertainment in one stop,” Neber remarked.

Right property, right time

Hilltop has been primed for redevelopment for some time. In 2012, the Richmond City Council adopted the General Plan 2030 as a roadmap for the City’s sustainable growth and development, and the revitalization of Hilltop was deemed an important part of the strategy. As noted in the General Plan, Hilltop has competition in the form of newer regional power centers and lifestyle properties in neighboring Pinole and Emeryville. A reinvigorated center would attract shoppers from other communities along the I-80 corridor.

LBG is ready to commence redevelopment of Hilltop, starting with renovations of the exterior and interior of the property. Added Neber, “We are excited to see this new chapter for Hilltop and the benefits that new energy at this property will bring to Richmond and neighboring cities.”

Images courtesy of LBG Real Estate