Woodland Hills
City Approves $60 Million Mall Deal
By Alex Mazariegos
Jul 2, 2013 - 1:16:32 PM

WOODLAND HILLS—The Los Angeles City Council voted on Friday, June 28 to approve a tax break deal for Australian developer Westfield Group LLC, in a move expected to ramp up construction of the corporation's proposed Village at Westfield Topanga project.


Under the approved deal, 42 percent of the net of the new tax revenue generated by the project, or a possible $60 million over a 25 year period, will be redirected to Westfield Group LLC. The corporation asked for the deal in a transparent bid to receive financial assistance in a project that is estimated to cost $750 million. A key motivation in Westfield's pursuit of the deal was a supposed $48 million funding gap for the project.


The vote was expected to occur on Wednesday, June 26 but the session was moved to a later date. Members of the City Council cited a “busy agenda” as reason for delaying the vote.


The redirected revenue would normally go into the city's general fund, which is used in paying for the city's basic services, including its police and fire divisions. The plan was not presented to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee before the vote; however, the Council's approval sends the plan to the committee for review.


In support of the proposal, Councilman Dennis P. Zine said “the city will still get 58 percent of the tax revenue” for a “vacated land generating no money for the city of Los Angeles.”


The project will connect both it and the Westfield Promenade Mall.

The City Council approved the project last year. Construction is set to take place on Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Victory Boulevard. The proposed Westfield Topanga mall will connect with the Westfield Promenade mall, and the project will also include a 158-room hotel, a Costco, and office buildings.


A city staff report authorized by Councilman Zine estimates $140 million in tax revenue over the next 25 years as well as the addition of 1,600 permanent jobs generated by Westfield's project.


For its part, the Australian corporation is tendering a $100,000 contribution to the local police division and inclusionary use of the hotel meeting space for community non-profits. Furthermore, it is promising to hire locals for the construction and permanent jobs.


Though supporters of the approved tax deal cited the need for recovery in a maligned Los Angeles economy, which they believe is alleviated by Westfield project, opponents of the deal had requested for a delay on a vote that appeared to be rushed.


The project is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the Woodland Hills Homeowners Association. The group contests the inclusion of the Costco, charging it in violation of the Warner Center building guidelines.

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