A new wrinkle in the Westfield Centre drama, as large tenant American Eagle Outfitters just filed a lawsuit saying Westfield management abandoned any attempt at security and allowed the place to go to hell in a handbasket.
When the Westfield San Francisco Centre surrendered the property to its lender in June, EU-based owner Westfield Properties gave the official story that it was because of “challenging operating conditions in downtown San Francisco.” But that raised a little skepticism, as a year earlier, that same Westfield Properties told the Wall Street Journal that they planned to back out of all their U.S. malls, and had already dumped off several American malls in other cities. So did Westfield Properties already have one foot out the door, and neglect the place on purpose?
That’s the allegation of a new lawsuit from Westfield tenant American Eagle Outfitters, as first reported by the SF Business Times. That lawsuit accuses Westfield Properties of “full neglect” and says the owner allowed the mall to “deteriorate into disarray” by cutting back security after its reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Westfield cannot walk away from the harm that it has caused without consequence,” says the lawsuit that was filed this week in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the Chronicle. “It must be held accountable for the damages caused by its failures and broken promises.”
The clothing Brand American Eagle, one of the largest remaining Westfield tenants on the Market Street-facing ground floor, said in the suit that they endured more than 100 “significant security incidents” in the three years after the mall reopened in June 2020. They allege the mall owners cut back on security, and even moved their own administrative offices out of the property, so they had no idea what was happening on the premises they managed.
Westfield Properties did not return comment to the Chronicle, as they say they have not yet been served the lawsuit. American Eagle did not specify a certain dollar amount. But they're definitely looking for money, with the suit asking for “all actual and compensatory monetary damages” from the alleged lack of security and maintenance.
Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp