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Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 5:31 pm

Westfield Solano part of billion-dollar shopping center sale

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    Westfield Solano Mall

    The dining court entrance to Westfield Solano in Fairfield (Credit: The Westfield Group)

    FAIRFIELD — Westfield Solano is part of an eight-property, $1.154 billion pending sale of “non-core” shopping centers across the country announced today.

    Australia-based shopping center giant The Westfield Group included the 1.16 million-square-foot mall in Fairfield, located at the Travis Boulevard junction with Interstate 80, in a deal to sell majority interest in seven centers totaling 6.61 million square feet to an investment group led by Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group. Westfield would retain 10 percent ownership.

    The sale is expected to close by the end of this quarter. Starwood, which had more than $19 billion in assets under management at the end of last year, is forming a new retail property investment group for the portfolio.

    “We have previously flagged the potential divestment of non-core assets in the U.S. and this transaction is an important step in the repositioning of our portfolio to major retail assets with strong franchise characteristics,” said Peter Lowy, Westfield co-chief executive officer.

    Westfield Solano is the second-largest of the eight in the pending sale, following the 1.6 million-square-foot SouthPark mall in Cleveland. It has 169 retailers, the largest of which are Edwards Fairfield Stadium 16 & IMAX theaters, JCPenney, Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears and Forever 21. The latter replaced part of the Mervyn’s space left vacant after the chain’s bankruptcy. The mall gets about 7.4 million visitors a year, according to Westfield.

    The other San Francisco Bay Area shopping center in the pending Starwood purchase is the 282,000-square-foot Metreon in San Francisco. The other five centers are ChicagoRidge and Louis Joliet in Chicago, Gateway in Lincoln, Neb., and Westland in Miami.

    Average sales per square foot for the seven properties is $373. Average occupancy is 93.8 percent.

    The eighth center — 844,000-square-foot Eastland in West Covina — is being sold separately to an undisclosed party for $147 million. That sale is expected to close in 45 days.

    Westfield has stakes in 111 shopping centers across Australia, the U.S., the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Brazil. That includes 48 U.S. shopping centers with 57 million square feet of leasable space in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington.

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