A Stroll Down Memory Lane: The Origins of Westland Mall
Let’s take a moment to travel back to the summer of 1971. This year, the Westland Mall opened its doors to the public in the bustling heart of Hialeah, Florida. The mall was a sight, constructed east of the standalone Burdine’s Department Store.
The initial anchors that welcomed customers were the iconic Sears, Burdine’s, and JCPenney, standing as grand testaments to the vibrant retail culture of the era.
The mall has undergone several transformations throughout the years, with names that reflect its evolving identity.
In 2007, after being sold to the Westfield Group, it adopted the name “Westfield Westland.” However, this name was short-lived, reverting to its original title when it changed hands again in 2012, this time to the Starwood Capital Group.
One significant event that stands out in the mall’s rich history was the move by Sears Holdings in 2015. To optimize their portfolio, they spun 235 properties, including the Sears branch at Westland Mall, into Seritage Growth Properties.
The decision paved the way for new tenants, with the first level of the former Sears store making room for Forever 21 and Xfinity. This period of change culminated in November 2019, when Sears announced the closure of their Westland Mall location as part of a national plan.
Navigating the Present: Current Ownership and Management
The deal, worth a staggering $149.4 million, saw Centennial assume Starwood’s mortgage, underlining the mall’s value as a prime piece of real estate.
However, it’s worth noting that the transaction didn’t encompass the entirety of the mall. Buildings that housed Macy’s, JCPenney, and the now-closed Sears were prohibited from the sale.
Nonetheless, the acquisition by Centennial was a significant milestone in the mall’s history, marking the beginning of a fresh chapter.
An Exciting Array of Tenants and Buzzing Customer Traffic
Today, Westland Mall stands as a vibrant hub of over 85 stores, a testament to the dynamic retail environment of Hialeah. From fashion giants like JCPenney, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and G by Guess to the tantalizing culinary offerings of Chili’s Bar & Grill and Outback Steakhouse, the mall offers diverse shopping and dining experiences.
Whether hunting for the latest trends at H&M or searching for the perfect scent at Bath & Body Works, Westland Mall has something for everyone.
The mall doesn’t just offer an impressive array of shops; it also commands a steady flow of customer traffic. On any given day, the mall is abuzz with 10 to 12 thousand people from the Miami metropolitan area.
It’s more than a shopping destination; it’s a gathering place, a central hub where people come together, united by the shared experience of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
The Broader Retail Environment in South Florida
While Westland Mall continues to thrive, it’s crucial to consider the broader retail landscape in South Florida. Since the third quarter of 2021, landlords have gradually increased rents, reaching levels surpassing the pre-pandemic era.
However, this trend has been primarily driven by restaurants and service-oriented tenants, indicating a shift in consumer preferences.
Several South Florida malls have also experienced financial difficulties. However, despite these trends, Westland Mall remains a beacon of resilience. Unlike its counterparts, Westland Mall is not securitized in CMBS, which positions it in a unique spot within the industry.
A Glimpse into the Future
As we move forward, the future of Westland Mall looks promising. With its strategic location in Hialeah, just 20 minutes from Miami International Airport, the mall is ideally situated to continue serving the local community and attracting visitors from afar.
Its wide array of stores, food outlets, and entertainment options make it a prime destination for shoppers and diners.
Moreover, the mall’s new owners, Centennial Real Estate, bring a wealth of experience in owning and managing malls and neighborhood shopping centers throughout the U.S. This expertise, coupled with their understanding of the evolving retail landscape, bodes well for the future of Westland Mall.
One thing is clear as we reflect on the rich history of Westland Mall and look forward to its exciting future. The mall remains a central hub for the people of Hialeah and beyond, where memories are made, local businesses thrive, and the community comes together.