Westcor Pushes Phoenix Mall Opening Back a Year

As retailers nationwide feel the financial pinch, Westcor, the largest owner-manager of commercial properties in Arizona, has delayed the opening of its Phoenix-area Estrella Falls regional mall from 2009 to 2010. The 2-million-square-foot Estrella Falls open-air regional shopping center (pictured) will include a combination of department stores, lifestyle shopping, dining, entertainment and a streetscape with 30 acres of open space. The project was originally scheduled to open in fall 2009. Now, it has been pushed back to fall 2010. Tenants already in place, including Dillard’s and Harkins Theaters, remain committed to the development, according to Westcor information. “We made the decision to shift the timing from fall 2009 to fall 2010 because of several factors,” Garrett Newland, vice president of development for Westcor, told CPN. “Many retailers are pulling back from deals in 2008 and 2009 and even closing stores nationwide. Our retail partners have to come in and be successful and we believe a 2010 opening will be better.” In a “letter to the community” on the Estrella Falls website, Westcor’s message included “working closely with our retailers, we have determined that a shift in timing of the grand opening for the regional mall is the responsible and appropriate thing to do for Estrella Falls. Our new opening date of fall 2010 will not only meet the needs of our retailers, but also accommodate some recent infrastructure challenges.” Newland said Westcor was concerned, too, with the ability or provide adequate wastewater capacity by a private utilities provider to the mall. “All these factors led us to believe that the delay is a good move,” he added. Despite the delay, the Market at Estrella Falls–the power center component of Estrella Falls–is slated to open on time this fall. Retailers committed to the project include Bashas’, Shoe Pavilion, Staples, Petco, TJ Maxx’s HomeGoods, Razmataz and La-Z-Boy. The Estrella Falls regional shopping center is located near a 300-acre, mixed-use destination in the Southwest Valley. The project will also include additional commercial uses, hotel, office and multi-family residential uses.  “We’re in a softening market with housing starts down significantly; especially on the west and southeast side of Phoenix,” David Glimcher, president & CEO, of Glimcher Ventures Southwest L.L.C., told CPN.. “For Westcor to do a regional mall, it requires a commitment of a number of anchors and basically the department stores are pulling out on a lot of projects right now and pulling back. Macy’s has experienced layoffs, is closing stores and pulling out of deals.” Department stores are hesitant to move forward, Glimcher said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised to find out in six months that the project could be further delayed to as late as 2012. “It takes a number of anchor tenants; two won’t make it fly especially when one is a movie theater. That is the kind of environment we’re in for major projects,” said Glimcher, whose firm has three prominent lifestyle projects in Phoenix focused on entertainment. “Centers like ours, focused strictly on entertainment with restaurants, are a product still needed in the marketplace and not overbuilt.” Founded in 1969, Phoenix-based Westcor is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macerich. The largest owner-manager of commercial properties in Arizona, Westcor’s portfolio currently consists of 18 million square feet of retail space at 28 shopping centers, including 11 super-regional centers, three specialty retail centers and 14 urban villages.