Los Angeles Business Journal

Council Delays Vote on Westfield Tax Break

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Los Angeles City Council postponed until Friday a vote on a tax break for Westfield Group that could save the mall developer up to $59 million over 25 years.

The council had been expected to vote on the proposal Wednesday but delayed action at the request of Councilman Dennis Zine, whose district includes the mall property. Zine said he wanted to give the proposal more consideration.

If approved, the proposal will allow the Australian company to keep 42 percent of net new tax revenue generated by its Village at Westfield Topanga project, as an incentive for the developer to speed construction of the sprawling $750 million project.

Despite the two-day delay on a vote, the proposal has been fast-tracked by the Council. A report by city staff was issued Monday, and the vote is expected to take place before the term of the current Council expires at the end of the week.

The project will connect the Westfield Topanga and Westfield Promenade malls and includes a 158-room hotel, a Costco and office buildings. However, it has been tied up in litigation for more than a year by the Woodland Hills Homeowners Association, which argues the Costco violates Warner Center building guidelines by encouraging car use.

The project is expected to generate $140 million in tax revenue over the next 25 years, and add 1,600 permanent jobs, according to the city staff report, which was called for by Zine.

In exchange for the tax break, Westfield is offering a community benefits package that includes a $100,000 contribution to the local police division, free use of the hotel meeting space for community non-profits and a promise to hire locals for the construction and permanent jobs.