Not content with half measures, Australian shopping mall operator Westfield Group will spend $800 million to become the sole owner of retail space at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Westfield is putting up the princely sum in order to buy out the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's 50 percent stake in the retail center, of which it already owns the other 50 percent.
The fact that a foreign company will have complete control of retail space at a landmark site in a major American city may come as a surprise to many New Yorkers. But in fact, the company won't be as Australian as all that. Westfield announced yesterday that it plans to divide its domestic and international businesses into separate companies. The new international company, Westfield Corp., will have a portfolio weighted toward U.S. properties.
And Westfield has a long history with the World Trade Center. Bloomberg News details how the company acquired a lease interest in the retail space at the old center less than two months before it vanished in the destruction of September 11, 2001. It sold that interest back to the Port Authority 10 years ago. Then, in July 2011, Westfield paid $612.5 million to "go halfsies" with the city on the retail center, which is set to open in 2015.
Westfield isn't the only Australian entity buying up property in the region. On the residential side, foreign investors are piling into properties in New York and New Jersey. One Australian fund has bought up more than 538 homes in the past two years alone, according to The New York Times. The fund is renovating the properties and then renting them out at premium prices.