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Century City mall's got money and connections

November 12, 2008 | 11:37 am

Centurycity2 Unlike some cash-strapped competitors in the shopping center business, Westfield has nearly $7 billion in the bank and can't wait to start knocking down buildings and digging dirt for an ambitious expansion of its Century City mall.

The $800-million project entails relocating Bloomingdale's, adding retail and office space, razing one of the original twin "Gateway" buildings designed by Welton Becket and replacing it with a 49-story tower with 262 apartments or condos.

Despite a boom in high-rise development in Century City that has surrounding neighborhood groups on high alert, the mall expansion has experienced remarkably smooth sailing for a proposal of its size.

On Thursday, the city Planning Commission is expected to approve the Australian company's environmental impact report, paving the way for passage by the City Council. The project has the backing of Councilman Jack Weiss, who represents Century City and has received more than $8,000 in contributions from Westfield executives for his city attorney campaign.

Westfield has also been a big donor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, giving him $100,000 for his committee to take over the school district and $50,000 for his 2007 U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Century City.

Read the rest of the article here.

--Martha Groves

Photo: LAT file