The cinema inside San Francisco’s Westfield mall is due to close this week – days after Westfield announced it was also moving, processing another blow for the struggling city center.
Cinemark will show its latest films on Thursday and close permanently on Friday.
Cinemark said The San Francisco Standard they had decided to close before the end of its lease, due to a “thorough review of local business conditions”.
The movie chain becomes the 24th department store to close in the Union Square neighborhood since the pandemic began, the newspaper reported.
Earlier this week Westfield announced that they have defaulted on the $558 million loan for the building and is handing it over to the lender, who will appoint a receiver. The mall will remain open for the time being.
The decision was triggered by the decision by Nordstrom, the mall’s anchor tenant, to close in August.
Westfield blamed “unsafe conditions” and “lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity” largely for Nordstrom’s departure.
The Cinemark cinema, Century Theater, in downtown San Francisco will close on Friday
Westfield in San Francisco (pictured) announced it was returning the building to the lender
A woman in a wheelchair injects drugs at San Francisco’s infamous outdoor drug market. The taxpayer-funded ‘harm reduction’ facility opened and closed near Westfield in early 2022, after criticism that it had done nothing to address the town’s many social ills
Westfield said the “unprecedented” poor performance at San Francisco stood in stark contrast to the rest of its properties.
The San Francisco Center generated $455 million in sales in 2019, before the pandemic.
Last year, sales fell by about a third to $298 million.
Nordstrom occupied 312,000 square feet in the mall: when it closes, Westfield San Francisco will only be 55% leased.
The other Westfields are on average 93% let.
The mall is a smart, upscale building, with other retailers including Bloomingdales, Aesop, Rolex, and Sephora.
Westfield’s struggles will put further pressure on city leaders, after several retailers and hotels in downtown San Francisco have closed as he continues to battle rising crime, open drug use and the homelessness.
The famously progressive city has been condemned for its “harm reduction” policies, which critics say have effectively legalized drug use. Meanwhile, his police department remains short-staffed after woke lawmakers called for funding in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
“For more than 20 years, Westfield has proudly and successfully operated downtown San Francisco, investing significantly over that time in the vitality of the property,” the company said.
“Given the difficult operating conditions in downtown San Francisco, which have resulted in lower sales, occupancy and foot traffic, we have made the difficult decision to begin the process of transferring the management of the mall to our lender to allow them to appoint a receiver to operate the property in the future.
The Westfield Mall in San Francisco includes 1.2 million square feet of retail space and 300,000 square feet of office space.
It’s in the troubled downtown Union Square neighborhood where homelessness and crime are rampant.
Camps are set up around the city and people do drugs openly. Pictured: Tents for the homeless are seen in the Tenderloin district during heavy rain in San Francisco on January 11
Several of the stores that have closed have cited safety concerns as downtown San Francisco is ravaged by homelessness and drug use
Retailer Old Navy has become the latest retailer to leave crime-ridden San Francisco (file photo from 2020)
Nordstrom recently closed a store in San Francisco, citing the city’s changing ‘dynamics’ as the reason for the closures
Employees at a Target store in San Francisco recently said it was robbed as often as every ten minutes
Whole Foods, Old Navy, Gap and Office Depot are just a few of the stores in the neighborhood to announce closures in recent months.
Of 203 retailers that opened in 2019 in the city’s Union Square neighborhood, only 107 are still in business, a 47% drop in just a few pandemic-ravaged years.
The city is in a kind of vicious circle: office workers are now working from home, making the city center much quieter and making empty streets more dangerous. Rising crime then deters people from entering the city center.
And as the downtown empties, the city loses essential tax revenue and the neighborhood becomes less attractive.
Lost revenue for the city from lower property taxes could reach $196 million a year by 2028, according to modeling released in November by the San Francisco Comptroller’s Office.
The best-case scenario from the modeling predicts that the cost will be closer to $100 million per year.
The building that houses the San Francisco Chronicle, a block from Westfield Mall, faces a 60% vacancy rate by fall when leases from Yahoo and Autodesk tenants expire.
Analysis of official numbers and other research reveals San Francisco could lose hundreds of millions of dollars due to corporate exodus and inability to recover from COVID
Signs on cars near the bonding site advertise ‘nothing to steal’ as crime continues to rise in one of the city’s poorest and most drug-infested neighborhoods
According to figures from the San Francisco Travel Association, tourism is steadily returning to pre-covid highs
Next door, the 415 Natoma office tower is 97% vacant.
Pedestrian traffic in San Francisco totaled 5.6 million visits between January and December 2022, down 42%.
In 2019, the figure was 9.7 million visits.
The city was hit by a statewide shoplifting law that downgraded the theft of merchandise worth less than $950 from a felony to a much lesser misdemeanor.
A disturbing recent report showed that 95 retailers in downtown San Francisco have closed since the start of the COVID pandemic, a drop of more than 50%.
In April, Whole Foods announced it would be closing its downtown San Francisco flagship store “for the time being” to ensure the “safety” of staff.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has proposed a record budget as the city faces a $1.3 billion deficit by 2028
“If we feel we can keep our team members safe in the store, we will assess a reopening of our Trinity store,” a spokesperson said.
Likewise, a Target store in the city was forced to lock down more of its products to ward off thieves.
An employee of the place recently said it was broken into as often as “every ten minutes”.
Many big San Francisco-based tech companies — including Meta, Google, Salesforce and Twitter — have also cut tens of thousands of jobs in recent months as the industry suffered from a post-covid downturn.
In April, Salesforce announced it would vacate its namesake 30-story downtown Salesforce East building, where about 1,000 employees worked before the pandemic.
City officials launched a $6 million advertising campaign in May to attract tourists. Visitor numbers have improved since covid and in 2022 were about 16% lower than the record 26.2 million recorded in 2019.
The international campaign included an advertisement featuring an array of local talent, including Lady Camden, a drag queen who became popular on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, and local muralist Sirron Norris.