Westfield Annapolis Mall has been put up for sale by its European owners less than four years after it was acquired in a $16 billion deal.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE announced last month that the company is leaving the U.S. as consumers have abandoned shopping malls for online buying during the coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news on April 5.
Westfield Annapolis was among dozens other shopping malls in the U.S. and Britain that were acquired in 2017 by Unibail, a Paris-based real estate company.
Chief Executive Jean-Marie Tritant told investors last month that all of the company’s 24 U.S. malls, which are valued at $13.2 billion, would be sold by 2023.
The news of a potential sale comes as Anne Arundel County unveiled proposals this month to revitalize three town centers across the county, including Glen Burnie, Odenton and Parole where the Westfield Mall is located.
“This mall would be a great investment for anyone interested in creating livable communities,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement. “Our Town Center Master Plan is finally being implemented, with new housing, new public space and a brand new transit center on the mall property.”
The draft plan released by the Office of Planning and Zoning would add pedestrian and bike paths and outdoor amenities like green spaces and event venues. The proposal covers 1,500 acres around the mall along the Route 50 corridor, including Anne Arundel Medical Center and Annapolis Harbour Center.
Work has already begun to design a new multimodal transportation center at the mall featuring a transit hub for mall employees with local transportation services throughout the day. Such a redevelopment would “bring people right into the community where they live,” said Lisa Rodvien, an Annapolis Democrat who represents the area on the Anne Arundel County Council.
Rodvien said she is especially excited about the plans for the Westfield Mall transit hub because it will get travelers out of their cars and into alternate modes of transportation.
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Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley has also sought to connect the mall, which lies just outside city limits, to the downtown. Buckley has proposed a bike trail called the West-East Express, or WEE, that runs along the existing Poplar Trail westward around the mall and on to Waterworks Park.
Since its establishment in the 1980s, the Westfield Mall has undergone several expansions.
One of the largest came in 2007 when the mall underwent a $100 million expansion that added more than 60 new retailers and pushed its total area to 1.5 million square feet, surpassing the size of Arundel Mills Mall. More than 1,000 new parking spaces were added as well, including parking garages and decks.
Mall management has brought in new tenants to lure people to the sprawling complex, such as the Discoveries: The Library at the Mall location, which opened in 2018.
In January 2020, mall management announced the old Lord & Taylor department store would be remodeled into boutiques and home design stores.
The mall is currently anchored by JC Penney, Macy’s, Apple Store, Crate & Barrell, Forever 21 and The Container Store, which arrived in 2021.