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(Updates with statement from Port Authority in sixth paragraph.)
July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Westfield Group, the world’s biggest shopping-center operator, agreed to invest $612.5 million to develop the retail part of New York’s World Trade Center.
The Sydney-based company has agreed in principle on a 50 percent share of a joint venture with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to develop the stores on the lower Manhattan site, Westfield said today in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.
Westfield invested in the retail concourse at the original trade center six weeks before it was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and sold its stake back to the Port Authority in December 2003. The mall owner signed a letter of intent with the bi-state agency in 2008 to jointly develop the new complex’s shops. The current agreement will replace the original letter, Westfield said in the statement.
The project will encompass about 365,000 square feet (34,000 square meters) of rentable retail space, and Westfield will be in charge of management and leasing, according to the statement. Westfield expects another 90,000 square feet will be added in the future.
Westfield shares fell 1.1 percent to A$7.96 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trade in Sydney, the lowest since May 25, 2009.
Trade Center ‘Turnaround’
“The agreement further validates the turnaround at the World Trade Center site,” which includes the scheduled opening of the 9/11 Memorial in September and the signing of Conde Nast Publications Inc. as an anchor tenant of 1 World Trade Center, the Port Authority said in an e-mailed statement.
Legal documents must be completed and the agreement approved by the authority’s board of commissioners later in the year, the agency said.
The Port Authority owns the 16-acre (6-hectare) site, which also includes the 1,776-foot (541-meter) 1 World Trade Center, the 9/11 memorial and a mass-transit hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The memorial plaza is slated to debut on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, and two skyscrapers, 1 and 4 World Trade Center, are to open in 2013.
A store-lined underground corridor will run from a new subway center at Fulton Street and Broadway, a block east of the trade center, to the World Financial Center on the Hudson riverfront, Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority, said on July 20.
--With assistance from David M. Levitt in New York. Editors: Andreea Papuc, Christine Maurus.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nichola Saminather in Sydney at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at email@example.com