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  Hilltop Mall Sold -- Again
April 22, 2021

Why a S.F. developer just bought Richmond's former Hilltop Mall

The former Hilltop Mall in Richmond has just been snapped up by an S.F.-based REIT.
The former Hilltop Mall in Richmond has just been snapped up by an S.F.-based REIT.
Todd Johnson | San Francisco Business Times

By Ted Andersen  –  Digital Editor, San Francisco Business Times
Apr 22, 2021 Updated 58 minutes ago

The Richmond mall previously known as Hilltop has a new owner — and future.

San Francisco-based Prologis (NYSE: PLD) announced Thursday that it has closed on its acquisition of the largely vacant shopping center. While the company did not immediately disclose details on the transaction, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt told me the sales price was approximately $117 million. He said the sale should net the city about $3.5 million in real estate transfer tax.

The purchase of the 78-acre site marks the beginning of Prologis' efforts to pursue a mixed-use development that includes residential and retail as well as the modern logistics facilities that are the company's specialty. Few details of that plan are yet available, with a Prologis spokesman saying the company is the “early planning phase.”

"We are excited to make this investment in the community and are deeply committed to working with the City of Richmond and residents to promote the revitalization of the Hilltop area," the spokesperson told me.

The seller, Newport Beach-based developer LBG Real Estate Cos., bought the property for $23.75 million in 2017 — which at that time was still 50% occupied — and rebranded site for sale as the East Bay Science and Technology Center last year. Take a look inside the mall in 2017 in the gallery below.

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.
7 photos

Built in the 1970s on top of an old Chevron oil storage tank farm, the East Bay shopping center thrived during the golden age of malls, growing over the years to house more than 1 million square feet of retail space and five anchor tenants at its peak in April 2007, when Walmart became the final retail giant to move in. Today, the shopping center is currently about 15% occupied with only Walmart remaining. The Macy's closed earlier this year. Its vast parking lot ringed by Hilltop Mall Road is now a barren suburban wasteland.

In February, the site became a focal point at Richmond City Council meetings regarding possible use as a safe parking site for people who live in their RVs, but following opposition by Hilltop neighbors, the council voted against locating the city’s Safe Parking Pilot Program in the mall's parking lot.

Prologis met with Mayor Butt in late January to float the mixed-use redevelopment at the site that would include both housing and industrial uses. The mayor told me he had a long Zoom meeting where the company discussed plans to place a logistics center and housing at the site, with the idea of keeping the existing Walmart there and expanding it into a larger grocery operation.

"I don't know if they've moved off of that," Butt told me on Thursday. "We'll see."