This just in from Macy’s at Hilltop. They will be closing and laying off 133 employees unless some transfer to other Macy’s stores. This leaves only Walmart at Hilltop Mall, once Richmond’s best hope for a dynamic retail future.
In the 1970s, Richmond’s leaders focused on two strategies to try to bring Richmond back to life: Hilltop Mall and Marina Bay.
Hilltop Mall was initiated by Chevron to unload an obsolete tank farm. It was controversial at the time because it was obvious the project would suck away whatever business remained in the traditional downtown Richmond along Macdonald Avenue. A feasibility study showed that a more urban style mall could succeed in downtown, but the City Council rejected that economic development strategy in favor of Chevron and Hilltop.
Hilltop Mall opened in September 1976, built on land previously occupied by an oil storage tank farm owned by the Chevron Corporation. The mall was developed by A. Alfred Taubman, who also developed several other shopping malls in the East and South Bay Area, including Eastridge Center in San Jose, Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, and Sunvalley Mall in Concord. Originally, it was anchored by red-tiled Capwell's, JCPenney and Macy's. Both Macy's and JCPenney originally had stores in downtown Richmond, but while Macy's had closed its downtown store a couple of years earlier, JCPenney kept its downtown store open for a year after Hilltop opened.Capwell's changed its name to Emporium-Capwell in 1979, before becoming simply The Emporium in 1990. Sears was added in 1990 in a newly built north wing addition, which was an expansion of this property.
Hilltop Mall boomed at first and spawned periodic surges of peripheral development, but today, 45 years later, it is just another dead mall.
Once opened, the mall attracted the major anchor stores from Richmond's downtown, with several major national chain stores closing downtown locations (although many acknowledge that the trend predated Hilltop due to economic and safety issues).
The mall remained largely unchanged until 1996, when the Emporium store closed following its merger with Federated, who owned Macy's. The store remained vacant until October 1998, when Macy's refurbished and relocated their existing store into the former Emporium space and closed the original Macy's store. The space would remain vacant until Walmart took over the space in Spring 2007.( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Bay_Science_and_Technology_Center)
As the years went by, the indoor mall business model went into decline all over the U.S., as shoppers preferred the excitement, diversity and urbanity of a more traditional main street combined with high density housing.. Hilltop never adapted and went into decline with multiple bankruptcies.
LBG Real Estate Companies, LLC, thought they could breathe in new life by focusing on Asian and Latino-themed offerings. At one time, a Ranch 99 market was planned.
But then COVID-19 hit, and that was the end.
January 5, 2021
MACYS HILLTOP – GOVT
State of California
Employment Development Department
Mayor Tom Butt
450 Civil Center, Suite 300
Richmond, Ca. 94806
Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County
Donna Van Ert, Executive Director
4071 Port Chicago Highway, Suite 250,
Concord, CA 94520
County of Contra Costa
1025 Escobar Street, 4th Floor
Martinez, Ca. 94553
This letter constitutes notice under the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. §2101 et seq., and the California Labor Code §1400 et seq. (collectively “WARN”), that there will be a “plant closing” or “termination,” as defined by WARN, at the Macy’s Hilltop location at 2500 Hilltop Mall Rd, Richmond, Ca., 94806. The entire plant will close. Job eliminations are expected to be permanent and are scheduled to occur between March 14 and March 27, 2021.
Enclosed is the list of job titles of positions expected to be affected at this time, the number of affected employees in each job classification and the dates these employees are expected to be separated. The affected employees do not have “bumping rights” and are not represented by any labor organization or other representative. Each employee will be given a description of their benefits and information about the opportunity to transfer to open positions in nearby Macy’s locations will also be made available.
If you have any questions, please contact me at (513) 573-8886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colleague Support Operations
In August of 2020, LBG Real Estate Companies, LLC, announced that the portion of Hilltop Mall they own would be closing down and would be up for sale. They have tried to brand it as a potential “life sciences” campus, but there is little interest. The only interest to date is from potential warehouse and distribution companies.
Richmond's Hilltop Mall rebranded as potential life sciences space as owner seeks to sell
An aerial view of the former Hilltop Mall, now rebranded as the East Bay Science and Technology Center under new plans by the owner to sell or lease the property.
By Laura Waxmann – Staff Reporter, San Francisco Business Times
Aug 21, 2020, 5:01pm PDT Updated Aug 21, 2020, 5:23pm PDT
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a Southern California developer to change course on plans to redevelop Richmond's aging 1.3 million-square-foot Hilltop Mall.
Newport Beach-based LBG Real Estate Cos. has rebranded the 78-acre property on Hilltop Drive at the I-80 freeway as the East Bay Science and Technology Center and is now looking to offload the asset, pitching it as a new potential center for life sciences and biotech space. The former mall is entitled for close to 17 million square feet of building area and zoned for hotel and residential uses.
LBG Managing Partner Doug Beiswenger told me the firm is currently “gauging market interest” and hasn't set an asking price. Newmark Knight Frank is marketing the site.
The property comprises six buildings and 6,000 parking spaces. LBG initially purchased a portion of the property — an enclosed mall and another building that was home to a department store — in 2017 for $24 million. The company later acquired the balance of the land and other buildings.
At the time of purchase, the property was 50% occupied, but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused most of its retail tenants to exit. Now, the property is only around 16% occupied, with Walmart as the only remaining tenant, according to Beiswenger, who described the property as “a blank slate and irreplaceable piece of real estate.”
Originally, LBG had planned to renovate the property and to "put in a replacement mall with some office," said Beiswenger. As we reported previously, the aging shopping center was in dire need of an overhaul. The company even rebranded it as the Shops at Hilltop.
Hilltop Mall in Richmond "has been starved for attention," said Leslie Lundin, managing partner for Los Angeles-based LBG, one of the mall's new owners.
But due to a changing retail market, those plans never materialized, and LBG has not undertaken any capital improvements at the site.
"When Covid happened that of course dramatically accelerated the reduction and need for retail space and the increase in need for life science, biotech and office space in East Bay locations," said Beiswenger. "Therefore our plan has just continued to evolve as the market has evolved, most recently with Covid in a very accelerated manner."
Beiswenger said the firm is willing to sell or lease the property “in whole or in part,” and that its large floor plates could serve a variety of uses, including life sciences and biotech labs, office, hotel, retail and residential. The property is entitled for up to 9,700 residential units.
“We could end up with a developer that wants to do a high-density mixed-use, a complete, fully walkable community,” he said. “One of the big benefits of its accessibility and the confirmation of what the property is in today’s Covid and hopefully soon post-Covid environment is that it being mostly two story, the vertical transportation needs are very little.”
While many commercial buyers are holding off on deals as a result of the pandemic, the life sciences space continues to be a top performing sector in the Bay Area, with 2.1 million square feet of active tenant demand outpacing the 1.7 million square feet of available space, according to Newmark. The market’s vacancy rate across the Bay Area is currently at 5.6%.
For more on the history of Hilltop, click here.