Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Council Renews Westfield Tax Breaks

By Business Journal Staff Originally published March 4, 2014 at 2:25 p.m., updated March 4, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been changed from the original to clarify that Westfield's earlier decision to withdraw a planned hotel from fast-track status was not what prompted Tuesday's City Council vote. Rather, the vote ratified a final agreement on the tax break that was ready for council action.

The L.A. City Council gave its final approval on Tuesday for a set of tax breaks for the Village at Topanga project by Australian mall developer Westfield Group.

The vote comes nearly a year after Westfield first reached an agreement with the city for up to $59 million in tax breaks over the next 25 years, which it said was necessary to fast track construction of the development over three years.

The project is expected to generate $140 million in tax revenue over that same period and add 1,600 jobs.

The approval also comes less than one week after Westfield announced it was no longer planning a 158-room business class hotel as part of the fast track development.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield, whose district includes the project, said the project will still have major benefits without the hotel.

“The Village at Westfield Topanga project will jump start a major economic engine in the West San Fernando Valley and provide substantial benefits to the entire city,” he said in a statement.

Katy Dickey, a spokesperson for the developer, said the decision to not build a hotel over the next three years was made after reviewing the market.

“It was concluded that current market conditions/demand for a hotel weren't adequate,” she said, in an email. “Therefore it was removed from the initial phase, but we reserved the right to pursue construction of a hotel in the future.”

The fast track development will connect the Westfield Topanga and Westfield Promenade malls. It will feature a Costco, restaurants and shops.

The project also includes office towers, which are not part of the first phase of construction. The city will retain all tax revenues from the hotel and office buildings if they are built, since they are not part of the fast-track agreement.