The Westfield Group yesterday (September 13, 2011) launched its most iconic and ambitious project to date in East London. The £1.8-billion Westfield Stratford City retail project will be the gateway to the London 2012 Olympic Park and is the largest urban shopping center in Europe.
Westfield Stratford City was officially opened by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, together with Westfield Group Chairman, Frank Lowy AC.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport addressed a VIP reception following the launch and global rock star Nicole Scherzinger entertained the opening day guests.
The retail development will be owned in a partnership between Westfield, who will own 50%, and APG of the Netherlands and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board jointly owning the other 50%.
Westfield Stratford City is anchored by flagship John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose stores, a 17-screen Vue cinema, and the UK's largest casino operated by Aspers.
With 250 shops plus 70 places to dine, it will create a new lifestyle destination for East London. Stratford City also includes three hotels and 130,000 ft² of office space which is the first phase of a total of 1.1 million ft² office precinct and 1,200 residential dwellings which are expected to be developed after the 2012 Olympic Games.
As part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in the UK, Westfield Stratford City is located on the doorstep to the Olympic Park and three quarters of all spectators are expected to walk directly through the center on their way from the transport hubs to the Park.
The Chairman of Westfield Group said: "We are immensely proud of this world-class shopping center which is the culmination of over 50 years' experience and firmly cements our position in the UK market which we entered just over 10 years ago. The project has been delivered on time, on budget and over 95% leased at opening."
Jeremy Hunt said: "Europe's biggest urban shopping center opening beside the Olympic Park is a massive vote of confidence in the area and proof of the powerful effect London 2012 is having on this part of the city.
"It will be a fabulous showcase for some of the best British retail businesses and brands, especially during the Games. And as a significant new local employer it is a fundamental part of the lasting legacy of London's Games."
Boris Johnson said: "Westfield Stratford City has already played, and will continue to play, a crucial role in the remarkable regeneration of East London. Thousands of jobs for Londoners, millions in investment and one of the best shopping destinations in the world are a fantastic legacy which has been delivered years earlier than would have been possible without the 2012 Games.
"The Westfield Group has helped secure a bright future for this long-neglected corner of the capital."<