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San Francisco Mayor Floats Teardown Of Westfield Mall, Advocates 'Reimagining' Of Downtown

San Francisco Mayor London Breed told an audience at the Bloomberg Technology Summit investors should consider demolishing the Westfield mall in downtown and put something new like a sports stadium in its stead.

“We can tear down the whole building and build a whole new soccer stadium,” Breed said, according to Bloomberg

San Francisco Mayor London Breed

The Westfield mall in San Francisco’s downtown corridor has been beset by retail flight, with Nordstrom, the flagship store, announcing in May that it would leave, and Westfield announcing in early June it would give its namesake mall back to lenders due to declining foot traffic and sales.

Breed said the decline predates the pandemic and reflects a change in the way people shop, with many preferring to procure their wares online.

“How people shop has changed and will continue to change, and I don’t think we can completely rely on retail in the downtown area,” she said. 

Many San Francisco officials contend that reimagining what is possible in the downtown area is a must as the city struggles to recover from the pandemic. 

San Francisco Director of Economic Recovery Initiatives Katherine Daniel said during a Bisnow panel last week that hosting events in the downtown corridor is another solution to drive traffic to a downtown area that has not recovered from the remote work phenomenon that arose during the pandemic.

“We offered a Night Market, which brought in 10,000 people at the first event and I think it shows that in the short term, we can draw foot traffic,” Daniel said. 

Breed and her administration have drawn intense criticism from many who say they have tolerated the degradation of street conditions and petty crime, making parts of San Francisco, and downtown in particular, unsightly and unsafe. 

Breed told the audience at the Bloomberg event that the city needs more police with a law enforcement apparatus intent on punishing petty crime for conditions to improve. In the meantime, she believes San Francisco can pivot to something new rather than dwell on the trickle of bad news regarding retail stores fleeing certain neighborhoods. 

“Let’s look at what’s possible rather than dwelling on the stories of another store leaving when there are a lot of people who may not even shop there anymore,” she said. 

Along with downplaying retail, Breed has also introduced other initiatives aimed at encouraging the modification of San Francisco’s downtown. 

On Thursday, Breed introduced a request for interest policy, where City Hall will query developers, architects and property owners regarding which buildings best lend themselves to adaptive reuse projects. 

“We have to start reimagining what downtown can be,” Breed said.   

Related Topics: london breed, Westfield Co.