Mall giant Westfield announces it is breaking lease with Fulton Center due to crime

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Mall giant says it is breaking lease with Fulton Center due to crime
Anthony Carlo has the latest in Lower Manhattan on the Fulton Center lawsuit.

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- The MTA is suing mall giant Westfield after the company notified them it intends to end its lease and cease all operations at the Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan.

Westfield signed a 20-year lease on May of 2014 - meaning they still have 10 years left in their lease.

Westfield is blaming crime and quality of life concerns as their reason for terminating the lease. In response, the MTA is suing the retail management company for breaking the lease.

But Westfield says the MTA is not properly maintaining public safety at the transit hub and the mall giant has told the MTA that multiple tenants have left -- citing break-ins, theft, vandalism, harassment and assault.

"The rate of subtenant vacancies is at an all-time high," Westfield wrote in a legal filing. "Few businesses want to open and operate a store where their employees and customers regularly would experience theft, property damage, bodily harm, or threats."

Workers and subway riders told Eyewitness News that the biggest concern is the homeless population that congregates at the Fulton Center.

One worker said she had to help a woman hide in her store because she was being followed and harassed. Some subway riders say they avoid taking the train there altogether because of it.

"The real problem is homelessness here, you can just look out the window and see people roaming around, it probably lessened because it's getting nicer outside but during the winter months, it's a lot," said Nia Moore, who works at Birch Coffee.

It all comes as the National Guard and state police have been deployed across the subway system to make riders feel safe after a spate of high-profile transit crimes.

Even though grand larceny is down in the 1st Precinct, both retail theft and petit larceny are up.

Retail theft is also up more than 4% across New York City so far this year.

"While we are unable to comment on specific pending litigation, we have full confidence in the NYPD, which has surged officers into the subway, to ensure safety across the transit system, including at Fulton Center," a spokesperson for the MTA said in a statement.

Eyewitness News has reached out to Westfield for a comment.

ALSO READ: City officials, residents await arrest of 'worst landlord'

Darla Miles has more on the arrest warrant for landlord Daniel Obhebshalom.


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