MONEY & BUSINESS: American Eagle sues Westfield for letting iconic San Francisco mall ‘deteriorate into disarray,’ allowing crime to run rampant
American Eagle, one of the largest remaining tenants in San Francisco’s massive Westfield Mall, is suing the shopping center’s owners for letting it “deteriorate into disarray” and allowing crime to run rampant.
The popular clothing company, which operates a large retail space inside the mall, accused Westfield of neglecting its security and management responsibilities required through its lease, according to the lawsuit, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.
American Eagle claims that between May 2020 and May 2023, the store was the scene of more than 100 “significant security incidents” — including customers flashing guns and verbally assaulting its employees.
As a result, the staff were left “to suffer and respond to gun violence, physical assaults, burglaries, and robberies,” American Eagle says.
In June, Westfield and co-owner Brookfield Properties said they would default on its $558 million loan for the complex and blamed the Golden City’s government for surging crime that slashed sales and foot traffic, The Chronicle reported.
However, American Eagle believes Westfield is also at fault.
“Westfield cannot walk away from the harm that it has caused without consequence,” said the lawsuit filed Monday in San Francisco Superior Court. “It must be held accountable for the damages caused by its failures and broken promises.”
Westfield said earlier this year that foot traffic in the mall decreased to 5.6 million visits last year — down significantly from 9.7 million in 201 and, a 43% drop at a time when its US Flagship portfolio saw a 98% recovery.
Sales declined to $298 million in December 2022 from $455 million in 2019, the company said.
Westfield management has declined to comment because the company has not yet been served the lawsuit, according to The Chronicle.
American Eagle is demanding “all actual and compensatory monetary damages” for breach of contract regarding mall security and maintenance outlined in the lease, which runs through 2028.
The suit comes as a number of major businesses in San Francisco have shuttered their doors, including Nordstrom in San Francisco Centre and a number of other stores at the mall.