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OWNER TO REFIT PROMENADE.

Byline: Chris Sieroty Staff Writer

WOODLAND HILLS - Westfield America Inc. says it will spend $35 million to remodel the Westfield Shoppingtown Promenade mall, one of two malls it owns in the West Valley.

The company's plans include remodeling the ground floor of the mall from a high-end specialty center into a retail and entertainment center. The second floor will feature so-called ``lifestyle'' stores to complement the new lower-level tenants and the existing AMC Theatre, according to Westfield spokeswoman Catherine Dickey.

The plans also include a new exterior and the addition of new restaurants and entertainment venues.

Once the Promenade project is completed, the remodeled mall will become ``the premier lifestyle and entertainment destination in the west San Fernando Valley,'' Dickey said.

Westfield also owns Westfield Shoppingtown Topanga two blocks north of the Promenade on Topanga Canyon Boulevard. While Topanga has enjoyed success over the past few years, the Promenade has never been able to attract more shoppers or the stores that draw them.

Both malls attract customers from the West Valley, Calabasas-Agoura Hills and east Ventura County, giving them a strong base of middle-class and upper-middle-class customers.

After declining to confirm the plans for several months, Dickey said Friday that the company hopes to begin construction in July and complete the project by spring 2001.

The mall will remain open during construction, she said.

Brent Schoenbaum, senior manager in the consumer business practices division at Deloitte and Touche, Los Angeles, says the project should be a successful venture for Westfield because of the upscale neighborhood in which the mall is located.

``The developers are trying to find new ways to bring people into the mall,'' Schoenbaum said. ``The odds are the changes will have a positive impact in the near and middle term.''

The remodeled mall will feature the AMC 16 theaters along with such ``lifestyle'' stores as Restoration Hardware and Z Gallerie. Topanga Plaza will focus on fashion outlets such as The Gap, Banana Republic and Nordstrom.

``It's going to be transformed,'' she said. ``The (remodeled) Promenade will complement, not compete with, Topanga Plaza.''

Dickey refused to comment on whether Macy's, which has anchored the struggling Promenade for several years, would remain once the remodeling is completed.

Messages left with Macy's regional offices in San Francisco were not

returned.

According to Dickey, there are currently no plans to offer shuttle service between the malls, but it is something the company is looking at offering in the future.

To accommodate the remodeling project, a number of first-floor businesses at the Promenade will either close or move to the second floor of the mall.

One of the retailers closing is New York-based clothier Brooks Brothers.

Manager Amy Bailey said she was told Tuesday that the store would close May 26 instead of changing locations.

``The mall has offered to buy us out,'' Bailey said. ``We did have a lease on the space until 2003.''

Bailey said she has made a proposal to company officials to move the store to Topanga Plaza or Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, but hasn't received a response.

``We would like to be in the Valley, but we do have stores in Century City and downtown Los Angeles,'' she said.

Both customers and retailers say remodeling the mall will increase foot traffic, which in turn should lead to increased sales.

Derek Van Dyke, visiting the mall while on vacation from his job as director of marketing for the San Diego Stingrays of the International Basketball League, predicted that the mall would benefit from more people window shopping.

``I walked in and it looked empty,'' said Van Dyke, who had hoped to dine at P.F. Chang's China Bistro. The new restaurant, located in the parking lot, is expected to open in July.

``A remodeled mall will definitely help,'' said Richard Noel, assistant manager with Restoration Hardware. ``We have no plans to leave and just painted the store on Thursday.''

However, Noel said he would like to see Westfield put up a sign in the mall that informs customers of the remodeling.

``A sign would stop customers from asking why we are closing,'' he said.

Shares of Westfield America Inc. gained 18 cents on Friday to close at $14.56 on volume of 45,000 shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange composite index.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 13, 2000
Words:717
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