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Mostly vacant downtown San Francisco mall gets a retro rebrand

The former Westfield will now be called 'Emporium Centre San Francisco'

A person by a bike stands in front of the San Francisco Centre entrance with bold signage.
The iconic red lettering at the former Westfield mall has been stripped off, but new branding is on the way. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

The struggling San Francisco Centre in downtown San Francisco has unveiled the first steps for a planned turnaround: a rebrand into a century-old business.

The mall will now be known as "Emporium Centre San Francisco"—a nod to the building's previous life as the Emporium, a department store chain that operated its flagship location on Market Street between 1896 to 1996.

The same week that Macy's dealt a devastating blow to Union Square with the announcement that the flagship store is slated for closure, the new managers of the former Westfield mall a few blocks away are outlining their strategy to revive the floundering property.

New signage, logos and an updated website and social media channels will roll out in the coming weeks, the mall's new owners said.

The Emporium property, known for its skylit central domed rotunda, was transformed into an addition for the Westfield mall and is currently mainly occupied by Bloomingdale's, which occupies five floors.

Last October, a San Francisco judge appointed Trident Pacific to operate the property after the former owners stopped making loan payments on the mall and ceded it to lenders. Real estate firm JLL was brought on as the mall's property manager and leasing agent.

The new operators said they have a multipronged strategy for the mall's comeback that includes working with existing retailers and restaurants to keep them at the property, helping to bring in new entertainment and culinary tenants, continuing to improve security and working with the city and local groups on improvements to the surrounding neighborhood.

“During the Centre’s 128-year history, it has evolved with the times to sustain and reinvent itself as a community gathering place," Gregg Williams, principal receiver of Trident Pacific, said in a statement. "We’re committed to working with our existing retailers and restaurants, the City, and the community to ensure that this historic location has a new foundation to succeed.”

Other ideas include bringing in medical, education or tech tenants, adding fitness and recreation opportunities, and programming arts and cultural events.

“The success of Downtown depends on diversification, and the success of the Centre does, too," Sarah Dennis Phillips, the executive director of San Francisco's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said in a statement.

"Even as we envision grand ideas for the long-term future of the Centre, it presents a very real near-term opportunity to add life, energy and interest to the Union Square and Yerba Buena districts, by tapping into the local communities that surround it."