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‘Westfield’ signage stripped from mall in Palm Desert

The CEO of the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce briefly discussed the future of the mall in an interview with News Channel 3

The mall in Palm Desert is missing its signature signage, showcasing the shopping center as a Westfield-branded property.

News Channel 3 has been working to find out what this means for the short-term and long-term future of the facility.

In early August, News Channel 3 confirmed with a spokesperson for Westfield that the mall's lender was looking to transition management of the property to a third party and sell Westfield Palm Desert. At that time, the spokesperson told News Channel 3 that the mall will remain open during this transitional period.

This week, requests for comment to the overseas ownership group, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield have so far gone unanswered.

The local marketing director, Franchesca Forrer, replied to News Channel 3 saying only, "We don't have anything to announce at this time, but will reach out to you once we do." 

It seems changes are on the way for the building, but what exactly is coming next is not widely known. News Channel 3 has brought the questions to city leaders in Palm Desert as well as the CEO of the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce, Randy Florence.

"From my standpoint, if that mall wasn't there, we have a hole in the middle of our business district that needs to be filled one way or the other," Florence told News Channel 3 anchor Peter Daut when asked about the possible sale of the Westfield Mall. "The Chamber is very interested with whatever the eventual plans are going to be there. I am trying to establish a conversation with folks over at Westfield... The chamber would love to play a big role in this because that's a huge retail piece of our city in our community."

"And at this point, you haven't gotten answers either?" Peter followed up. "I have not either," Florence said, adding, "but I did have lunch over there, so at least I know it's open."

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A post in the ownership group's portfolio page touts the center as "the only indoor, super-regional shopping destination in the Coachella Valley, California’s most populated and prosperous desert community."

The Palm Desert mall is owned by the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Group, a European-based real estate company that owns malls across the world, including 25 in the United States. The August announcement came just hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was looking to unload its mall assets as the company attempts to shrink its debt. Reuters reported in February that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was looking to cut its U.S. exposure to close to zero. “At the end of the day, the exposure to the U.S. will be minimal, if not zero,” said Jean-Marie Tritant, the company's chief executive, during a call with journalists at that time. The company sold off three U.S. malls last year.

Westfield Palm Desert had been closed for months during the pandemic but has been reopened for more than a year.

KESQ News Team

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