The new owner of the former Westfield Santa Anita mall is Wen Shan Chang, a real estate investor from nearby Bradbury who apparently wants to keep a low profile as the previous owner continues to manage the property for him.
French retail property giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield announced last month that it had sold the large indoor shopping center in Arcadia for $537.5 million in one of the most expensive mall sales in the United States in years. The property has been renamed the Shops at Santa Anita.
Unibail-Rodamco declined to identify the buyer, a rarity in large-scale real estate transactions, saying only that the buyer “is an established commercial real estate investor who owns other retail assets in Southern California.”
Property records now list Chang’s company Riderwood USA as the owner of the mall near the famed Santa Anita Park horse-racing venue.
“The massive deal catapulted Riderwood USA to being the biggest spender on retail space in greater Los Angeles in the past half-decade, passing French luxury retailer LVMH and New York-based real estate giant Blackstone,” real estate data provider CoStar said.
Saks Fifth Avenue, one of Beverly Hills’ most famous department stores, is set to move to make way for a mixed-use complex that could energize a sedate stretch of Wilshire Boulevard near Rodeo Drive.
Public documents say Chang, 71, was born in Taiwan and owns an estate in Bradbury, a small city in the San Gabriel Valley that shares a border with Monrovia and is about a 15-minute drive from Arcadia.
Chang could not be reached for comment on his plans for the shopping center, which dates from 1974 and is considered a “super-regional” mall capable of drawing customers from long distances.
Westfield Santa Anita was widely regarded as one of the crown jewels of the Westfield chain. The 1.5-million-square-foot property on Baldwin Avenue is 96% leased, with sales of more than $600 per square foot on an annualized basis, real estate investment bank Eastdil Secured said, a measure of successful mall activity.
Selling the mall was part of Unibail-Rodamco’s planned “radical reduction of its financial exposure in the U.S.,” the company said.
The owner of Westfield malls, familiar to passersby for decades for their bright-red logo signs, said in April it would sell all its properties in the United States and bet its future on Europe, where it is the largest owner of shopping centers.
All 24 U.S. malls are to be sold by 2023, Chief Executive Jean-Marie Tritant told investors at the time. The company will become a “focused, European pure-play,” he said.
Among Chang’s other holdings are an apartment building in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles and two small hotels in Las Vegas.
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Roger Vincent covers commercial real estate for the Business section of the Los Angeles Times.
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