American Eagle suing Westfield owners for letting San Francisco mall deteriorate

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
American Eagle suing Westfield owners for letting SF mall deteriorate
American Eagle is suing the owners of Westfield San Francisco Centre for the rampant criminal activity their store has encountered.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A retailer in San Francisco's downtown mall, formerly known as The Westfield San Francisco Centre, has filed a lawsuit against Westfield's ownership group. Clothing brand American Eagle says there were recently more than 100 security issues within a year time frame, and they blame Westfield management for that.

AE Retail West, the group that owns American Eagle, has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the mall, saying they are to blame for problems their store has encountered.

"I think American Eagle's endgame here is to say we want out of our lease," said legal analyst Steven Clark.

The complaint claims that between May of 2022 and May of 2023, there were more than 100 security incidents at the American Eagle downtown San Francisco location. "American Eagle employees have suffered multiple physical attacks and assaults. In one instance, a patron even threatened American Eagle staff with a machete."

MORE: Westfield to give up SF location amid declining sales, Nordstrom closure, company says

Clark says this case has huge implications for other major cities.

"If American Eagle is allowed out of its lease based on the crime, the violence, the shoplifting, and the other problems at the mall, I think you'll see a lot of other retailers looking at this as a tool to say we want out as well," says Clark.

Reporter Laura Waxmann was first to break news of the lawsuit in the San Francisco Business Times.

"This lawsuit is interesting because now we have a retailer inside of Westfield, one of the big remaining ones saying 'hey, wait a minute, you guys didn't take care of some of the issues inside of the mall when you could have,'" said Waxmann.

MORE: 'A sad day': Nordstrom officially closes SF flagship store, shoppers say goodbye

The complaint argues that Westfield "must be held accountable for the damages caused by its failures and broken promises." It goes on to say that Westfield failed to maintain common areas of the mall like they were obligated to do in their 10-year lease that was signed in 2017, calling it a breach of contract. While there is no mention of wanting to break the lease, Clark believes it could come to that.

"Certainly, American Eagle doesn't want to be the last retail tenant at the mall. That could be a disaster financially, so I think because Nordstrom left and others have left, I think that's what American Eagle is saying... we don't want to wait until 2028 to leave, we want to leave now," says Clark.

Within the complaint, there is a request for monetary compensation for American Eagle, but no specific number was given.

We did reach out to American Eagle representatives who told us they wouldn't be commenting on the matter.

We also reached out to Westfield representatives who told us, "Westfield is declining to comment because we have not been served the lawsuit."

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