Horton Hears a Lawsuit

Macy’s is filing suit against the Horton Plaza Mall demolition

Macy’s is one of three retailers in the one-million-square-foot Horton Plaza Mall in San Diego, California. (Shane Reiner-Roth/AN)

Nearly five months after a unanimous City Council vote in May to demolish San Diego’s postmodern Horton Plaza Mall and replace it with a mixed-use block tentatively named “The Campus at Horton,” a group of local politicians and business executives have urged Macy’s department store, one of three retailers at the mall, to reconsider a lawsuit that would prevent the demolition from taking place according to the San Diego Tribune. Earlier this month, Macy’s West Stores, Inc. had filed a lawsuit against Stockdale Capital Partners, the Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm that purchased the Jon Jerde-designed Horton Plaza Mall complex in August of last year, to slow down or halt the forthcoming conversion.

The department store intends to halt the mall’s destruction by appealing to a San Diego Court judge, arguing that the developer’s plans to replace the complex with high-tech office space and rebrand the area violate Macy’s lease agreement. Additionally, Macy’s real estate executive Douglas Sesler wrote a letter to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer confirming their desire to take legal action, according to the Tribune. “We’re eager to continue a productive dialogue in good faith,” wrote Sesler, “but we concluded that litigation was necessary to prevent further deterioration of our rights and, even worse, another potential non-starter in the history of Horton Plaza redevelopment proposals.” The lawsuit claims that repurposing the mall violates Macy’s lease agreement as well as a reciprocal easement agreement they had signed, which gives the company veto power in the case of major property changes.

Though portions of the mall’s one-million-square-foot interior have already been demolished as part of the original development schedule to complete the first phase of the tech campus by the end of next year, the project will be legally required to come to a standstill if the judge finds Macy’s claim to be substantial. If the conversion moves ahead as originally planned, the amount of retail space on-site would be slashed to 300,000 square feet, as office space would “float” above the street on top of first-floor retail podiums.

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