Westfield Group to sell interest to Meyer Bergman and develop Bradford Center (UK)

The Westfield Group today announced agreements to develop the Bradford centre and sell its interest to Meyer Bergman, a privately held specialist retail real estate investment management firm headquartered in London.

The purchase of Bradford is being undertaken by Meyer Bergman together with two major Canadian pension funds, healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan Trust Fund and another co-investor in Meyer Bergman's second fund, Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners Fund II ('mberp II').

On completion of the transaction, Meyer Bergman will become the owner of the Bradford site. Meyer Bergman will appoint Westfield to the development, design, construction and leasing roles for the new shopping center. Westfield will also be appointed as property manager for the center following completion of the development.

The £260 mln (approx. €323 mln) Bradford development will comprise a 550,000 ft² (approx. 51,095 m²) retail center including over 70 shops and places to dine and will be anchored by Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and Next, who will occupy 35.6% of the project area.

Duncan Bower, Westfield Director of Development said, "The agreements with Meyer Bergman are a significant step forward for the development of the shopping center for the city of Bradford.

"Westfield has remained committed to progressing the Bradford scheme through difficult global economic times. In the past 12 months, Westfield has secured revised planning permission to ensure the scheme is more complimentary to the city center, completed the anchor store negotiations with the signing of Marks & Spencer, extended the lease agreement with Debenhams to create an additional third sales level and confirmed that Next intends to open its second Bradford store.

"There is increasing momentum behind this project and strong retail interest from a range of major stores and specialty shops given the relatively untapped retail market in Bradford City Center."

George Walsh Waring of Meyer Bergman said, "Bradford's city center has been without an adequate retail offer for over 20 years, so we are excited to be able to deliver, alongside Westfield and our co-investment partners, a prime shopping center right in the heart of the city that will completely transform its retail offering. We are confident that the Westfield Broadway center will continue the rejuvenation of the city's civic center and provide a tangible stimulus to the local economy and jobs market.

"As a specialist retail real estate investment firm our partnership with Westfield is a natural one and the new shopping center will benefit from our combined expertise and skill in developing and managing premium shopping centers across Europe. Furthermore, in structuring a partnership with two of MBERP II's largest investors, we have demonstrated our ability to structure large transactions outside of the traditional pooled fund framework for the benefit of our investors."

Councilor David Green, Leader of Bradford Council said: "The Westfield and Meyer Bergman announcement is good news for Bradford.

"This is a clear signal of investor confidence in Bradford, which builds upon the recent leasing announcements."

Bradford represents a compelling retail opportunity as a city that has not offered retailers or consumers a good quality modern retail solution in over 20 years. Moreover, with a catchment area of 1.4 million potential shoppers, it is the largest retail market in the United Kingdom without a department store.

The Broadway shopping center is in a prime city center location which is well connected via the motorway, and bus and railway station stations, and will offer 1,300 car parking spaces. The single storey mall will include a comprehensive restaurant offer to encourage high dwell times and will benefit from the ongoing improvements being made to Bradford's civic center, with over £50 million (approx. €62.2 million) already spent on enhancements.

The transaction is subject to the commencement of the Bradford development, which is expected to occur in the s

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