Thursday, October 29, 2015

Westfield Montgomery Mall has best year ever following renovations

Westfield has invested $100 million in upgrading and expanding its Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda over the last few years. And the investment has paid off handsomely, according to Jim Agliata, Vice President of Development at Westfield. Agliata told attendees at last night's Rock Spring Sector Plan meeting that the mall raked in $500 million in sales this year, and has had the highest customer traffic in the history of the mall's existence.

After adding a new Dining Terrace, more upscale retailers and restaurants, and a 16-screen luxury ArcLight Cinemas, the mall is making about $700 per square foot in sales, Agliata reported.
Westfield's Jim Agliata
He also confirmed what I've been reporting over the last couple of years, which is that the mall is putting a greater emphasis on extending tenants to the exterior and outdoor areas, whether it be exterior branding or patio dining.

Westfield isn't finished yet. Agliata said the center has 400,000 SF of approved addition space on the north side of the property. That was a major reason the mall moved the future Transit Center, now under construction, over to the I-270 Spur/Westlake Terrace corner of the property, he said.

Agliata said to expect that future structure to be oriented more to the outdoors than the existing indoor mall. He also said the mall is currently working to make the kiosks that populate its corridors more attractive. Current examples of that are the new Cleo's Oil Bar and Peet's Coffee and Tea.

The connectivity goals planners spoke about earlier in the evening for Rock Spring "needs to happen," Agliata said. Office parks near the mall are "a big driver for us."

Asked if he expected the mall to become transit-oriented, Agliata said Westfield would strongly support rail transit along I-270, and suggested the new site of the Transit Center would facilitate the mall as a logical station along such a route. But he said that would be a very expensive transportation project. Most mallgoers will continue to arrive by car, he said.

What is Westfield more optimistic about?

Agliata said his company has a 75-person division in San Francisco called Westfield Labs, which is not only working to improve the tech and WiFi experience at its malls, but is also preparing for autonomous vehicles.

He predicted the "mall of the future" would have a garage reserved for driverless cars, which would drop off patrons at the Valet Parking area, and then park themselves in that garage. "That'll happen someday. Ten years, maybe fifteen years," Agliata forecast.

One resident in the audience said, "malls are dying." "'A' malls are not dying," Agliata replied. "'B' malls and lesser malls are dying."


Anonymous said...

Sounds good. What do these numbers look like in comparison to Tysons and other malls?

Glad they are investing in a better mall for MoCo!

Anonymous said...

"Westfield would strongly support rail transit along I-270"

To serve what? Montgomery Mall and Tower Oaks? Did anyone think that through?

peter said...

....and of course this post is perfect evidence against The Moribund Dyer's continued whining about "the moribund MoCo economy."

Anonymous said...

That's a fair comment. I guess Montgomery Mall is the only thing doing well in the moribund Montgomery County economy.

Anonymous said...

They still don't have electric vehicle charging stations do they? I know Tesla has some, but those are for Tesla vehicles only.

Anonymous said...

So what will happen if two self-driven cars arrive at the same empty parking space at the same time? Will they start ramming each other if neither backs off?

Robert Dyer said...

Peter, once again, no one is disputing the success in one of the only sectors MoCo has shown any strength in - retail and restaurants. Unfortunately, when you examine aerospace, defense, tech, etc., - and then remember the County hasn't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in over a decade - the picture isn't as rosy overall as you claim.

Anonymous said...

Good for Montgomery Mall! What are the numbers for other malls though so we have a point of reference on how good those numbers may or may not be?

What are the stats for major corporate headquarters moving to another state nationwide?

Thanks Mr. Dyer.

Anonymous said...

Good news. Sales tax revenue for new schools!

Peter said...

Quoth The Moribund Dyer @12:51....the usual rant about HQ jobs.

Dude you have to get off this meme. What defense jobs do want here? Build the replacement for the B-2??? OK fine, tell me what 1000-acres or so of land around the MoCo Airpark that you want the County to buy via eminent domain (which costs TAX DOLLARS, therefore YOUR TAX RATE IS GOING UP, duh), so Lockheed/Northrop/Boeing can build the appropriate plants and runway (and then don't get me started about the costs of expanding that security perimeter, FAA adjustments, etc). Then, tell me where all those skilled techs are going to live, in what affordable housing, and not price out the people that are concerned that they are going to get priced out anyway, but 10-15 years sooner.

Frankly, if I was an aerospace exec and wanted to set up manufacturing in the DC area, I'd go to (a) Dulles because they have the land; (b) Hagerstown since they have land and history on their side (Fairchild built cargo planes and the A-10 there); or maybe (c) somewhere around Patuxent or the Eastern Shore for the existing DoD facilities there.

Good gravy there has been SO much consolidation in the aerospace sector, there are scads of facilities lying fallow that can be renovated/rebuilt far more cost-effectively than building an entirely new facility from scratch. I mean, whoever wins the contractor to build the successor the B-2 will likely build it in Palmdale because the plant's already there and thusly an existing sunk cost (and for all I know, it could even be a term of the contract when it gets to that point but that's for the USAF and the contracting wonks to figure out).

Tech jobs...ha. I work in tech and that meme is not all that it's cracked up to be either. What sort of tech jobs are you talking about? Datacenters? It probably takes about 20-30 people AT MOST to man most modern 3rd-party datacenters now, you do not need to have scads of people on-site all the time due to advances in remote access, physical hardware is far more powerful, virtual machines, etc. Programming? Ha, people can code from anywhere as long as they have the appropriate equipment, user rights, and access. And besides, a lot of work that the feds contract out is off-site anyway, and the Lockheeds/General Dynamics/SAICs/other of the world that do this, tend to keep these jobs close to the vest and have the lower-tier guys working in call centers that they already own elsewhere.

As for the HQ meme...we've been down this road before. And besides the ones that have left Maryland the past few years, have more been due to the companies being bought out than anything else!

No offense, but you REALLY need to put more thought AND RESEARCH into Your Moribund Meme Whines before going all in.

Peter said...

re: Anon @4:21....The Moribund Dyer will not respond. A cynic may reason that is because he's more concerned with (a) food photos or (b) "moribund economy rants" than doing some basic research.

A quick Google search punted me which is 8 months old but has some validity.

HOWEVER I would note that 16 of the 22 companies mentioned in said article had their HQ jobs depart because...THEY WERE BOUGHT OUT.

Additional notable point: you can search the Fortune 500 ratings back as far as 1996...which shows that 20 years ago there were only FOUR (count 'em, 4!) Fortune 500 companies with HQs in MD. Personally I think relying solely on Fortune 500 company HQ locations as the one true measure of corporate success is a bad idea; by that extension therefore, New York must be some sort of radioactive waste slag heap just on the basis of the long-term historical decrease in their numbers in the 60+ years that this data has been generated.

Anonymous said...

So now that they're building this new wing, what will they do when Sears finally gives up the ghost in the very near future?

Peter said...

re: Anon @6:15 -- personally I think that different tenants on each floor would make sense. Depending on when Sears decided to leave the would be interesting to see if Wegman's would consider that space. (Although, frankly, I would not be surprised if this was the last place that Sears closed due to foot traffic and Sears is pretty much the place with the best variety of major appliances around)