Masters of their domain

What is Sacramento to do with a landlord who owns blocks of prime downtown real estate, refuses to invest in it and only tries to obstruct the city’s best laid plans?

If that property owner is the Westfield Corporation, you just get punked.

City officials have become increasingly irritated by Westfield’s refusal to refurbish the faded Downtown Plaza, while the mall operator pours hundreds of millions of dollars into its Galleria of Roseville.

Upfront expects even more righteous (and mostly ineffectual) hand-wringing by city leaders given some new evidence that Westfield has pretty much written off its downtown property. The Sacramento Business Journal last week sussed out an important story that didn’t get enough attention over the holidays: Westfield is looking for a new mall site in North Natomas.

Westfield wouldn’t confirm the news, but the Journal’s Kelly Johnson cited sources saying the company was looking at property on the suburban frontier near the Sacramento International Airport. A new regional mall would be a blow to downtown retail, both at the Plaza and, one day, at the rail yards.

Of course, it’s not like there aren’t possibilities for retooling the downtown site, many of them outlined in this paper (See “Blow up the mall,” September 20, 2007). It’s just that Westfield doesn’t seem that interested. If only there was some way to take their property, and give it to somebody else …