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Westfield UTC's $180 million makeover complete

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Residents of La Jolla and regular visitors to Westfield UTC mall can now enjoy a new shopping, dining and entertainment experience, as its $180 million makeover is now complete.

For the last 14 months, Westfield UTC has been under construction to add 40,000 square feet of new space and renovate other areas of the now 1.1 million-square-foot mall.

New additions to Westfield UTC include a 52,000-square-foot, 14-screen ArcLight Cinemas; electric carmaker Tesla Motors dealership (the first in San Diego); Tiffany & Co.; J. Crew; Ben Bridge; Kiehl’s; Vans; Oakley; the Art of Shaving; Via Moto; Deko Floral; Tender Greens; Sarku Sushi Bar; Bolillo Tortas; and Stone Oven Gourmet Sandwiches and Salads.

Other new stores to UTC and to San Diego include Eureka! Burger, Splendid and Seasons 52.

There is now also a new child’s play area; family lounges; interactive community gathering spaces; and a new LED screen that provides videos, community news, weather, traffic and farmers market info.

Tom Tierney, senior vice president of Westfield San Diego, said the plan was to create a chic and upscale retail and resort-inspired center that would meet their customers' and the community’s needs.

“These renovations are really about our La Jolla customers,” Tierney said. “It’s an area with higher income, and we want to provide the community a place where they can shop closer to home.”

Renovations to UTC included an expanded 53,000-square-foot 24-Hour Super Sport Fitness Club; a bigger Forever 21 that is now 38,000 square feet; and a larger Starbucks.

The Dolphin Pools have been refurbished and improved with the help of the original artist and in partnership with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and water fountains have been installed around the mall for pets.

Also, “The Gardens” area at the mall, in partnership with San Diego Botanic Gardens, will provide an educational opportunity for children and adults, and will attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Restoration took place in existing common areas and walkways; the food court was remodeled to be more of a dining terrace; new finishes, flooring and furnishings were added across the mall; large heated umbrellas have been added to Palm Plaza; and there is now free Wi-Fi access throughout the entire common area.

“For us, it’s about our customers’ needs,” Tierney said. “We wanted to make sure we tailored our new stores into their market and serve La Jolla.”

The new makeover to Westfield UTC was also designed to enhance the open-air look and feel of the mall with environmentally sustainable amenities that were added to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Some of these green and energy-efficient features include low-flow plumbing fixtures, native and drought-tolerant plants, and landscaping and “cool roof” technology to reduce the need for air conditioning.

Westfield UTC said that because of this $180 million renovation project, annual taxable sales are projected to increase by $127.5 million to a total of nearly $500 million.

The project had approximately 1,000 construction jobs, and an estimated 2,400 new retail jobs will be established.

Tierney said this new makeover is Phase 1 of a possible three-phase plan to expand UTC.

“The ultimate goal is to build what the community needs,” Tierney said. “We may use some of our parking space to build out more retail space and building parking structures. We do have entitlements that have been improved by the city.”

Australian-based the Westfield Group bought the La Jolla area mall in 1990, and this is the first time it has received any type of cosmetic work, according to Tierney.

Tierney added that, with the exception of Sears, which owns its property, all retail and commercial shops lease space from Westfield. Leases are typically negotiated for 10 years. Westfield does not disclose leasing prices.

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