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San Francisco Debut

After four years' work, Westfield Group and Forest City Enterprises' joint $460 million San Francisco Centre debuted in late September.

“They've done a fantastic job,” says Bruce F. Katz, founder and president of San Francisco — based consulting firm Retail Focus. “The flow works very nicely between the two centers.”

Up to 47 percent of the new tenants at the property are opening up their first San Francisco locations, including the Art of Shaving, Riess, and Martin+Osa, and another 16 percent is made up of new concepts. Among the new tenants is upscale grocer Bristol Farms, a possible competitor to Whole Foods, as well as more than a dozen casual restaurants.

The joint project came about when Forest City was working on a redevelopment of the Emporium department store while Westfield was pursuing a proposed 1-million-square-foot project nearby. Instead of building competing projects, the companies merged efforts, creating a 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use property that now features a 338,000-square-foot flagship Bloomingdale's, a 350,000-square-foot Nordstrom, 326,000 square feet of new specialty retail, a nine-screen movie theater and 245,000 square feet of office space.

Westfield came into the picture in 2002 when the late Westfield Vice Chairman Richard Green and Forest City CEO James Ratner came to a quick understanding during an ICSC meeting. Forest City would design and entitle the $460 million project, while Westfield would handle construction, management and leasing services. The Emporium and the Centre are connected on five levels (the entire project is nine stories tall).

Westfield and Forest City expect the Centre to bring in 25 million visitors and $600 million in sales a year. They are splitting profits 50/50.

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