Northern California real estate developer sets sights on revitalizing Downtown Plaza

5:22 PM, Aug 15, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO - A San Francisco-based real estate investment firm has acquired Sacramento's struggling Downtown Plaza from shopping center giant Westfield. 

JMA Ventures, LLC, which owns Tahoe's Homewood Ski Resort and part of the Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, pledged in a news release to turn the mall into a "unique destination retail and entertainment center that will anchor a revitalization of downtown Sacramento."

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was hopeful the sale would breathe new life into Downtown Plaza.

Johnson and city staff had been working quietly to find a buyer for the shopping center and the breakthrough came when Westfield agreed to unbundle Downtown Plaza from a group of 16 other properties and sell it individually to JMA Ventures.

"This is a group that has capital.  This is a group that has a proven track record," Johnson said at a City Hall news conference.

Johnson said JMA Ventures would spend the next three months discussing the mall's potential with city leaders and other stakeholders.

Westfield acquired Downtown Plaza in 1998 as part of a larger deal and many believe never gave it the attention it deserved.

Downtown Plaza shopper Jenna Buhagiar said it was obvious Westfield greatly favored its other Sacramento-area shopping center.

"I see how they put a lot of love into the (Roseville) Galleria and I see how this mall just hasn't had any love from them at all," she said.

Christopher Corvi, who owns a tattoo parlor on the second level surrounded by vacant storefronts, said he was delighted by the owernship change.

"The mall being sold is probably the greatest thing that could happen to this property," Corvi said.

In addition to the ski resorts, JMA's Northern California portfolio includes Tahoe's West Shore Café and Inn, Constellation Residences at Northstar, the planned Hotel Avery in historic downtown Truckee, Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, and EPIC Roasthouse restaurants on San Francisco's Embarcadero waterfront.

Downtown Plaza opened in 1971 and was redeveloped in 1993, covering six city blocks and 14 acres of downtown Sacramento real estate.

Property records indicate Westfield's 1998 purchase was valued at $54.5 million.

The parties took steps to hide the sale price in public documents recorded on Tuesday.


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