American Eagle sues San Francisco mall operator alleging ‘full neglect’

American Eagle is suing the owner of a prominent downtown San Francisco shopping center for allegedly failing to address safety and security concerns, claiming it has “let the mall deteriorate into disarray.”

The clothing retailer says Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a commercial real estate firm, neglected the mall, including by failing to invest in security. A complaint filed Monday in the Superior Court of California for San Francisco County accuses the company of “allowing the mall to become a lightning rod for, in Westfield’s words, ‘rampant criminal activity.’ ”

“American Eagle believed it was leasing a prime real retail space with a street-front entrance in Downtown San Francisco from one of the most established and reputable retail landlords in the country,” the complaint reads.

But the neglect left “American Eagle and its employees to suffer and respond to gun violence, physical assaults, burglaries, and robberies,” it adds. “This is not the store American Eagle paid millions of dollars for, or the store that Westfield promised.”

The company said it is seeking monetary damages consistent with breach of contract.

The mall operator did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Thursday morning. An American Eagle spokesman said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

According to the complaint, which was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times, and several media reports, Westfield in June expressed its intention to default on a $558 million loan covering the mall, turning management over to a receiver. The default came after Nordstrom moved to close its Westfield store.

A chief concern, said American Eagle, is that Westfield has stopped maintaining common areas of the mall in recent years. The rise in crime the complaint cites included “stabbings, violent physical and sexual assaults, and robberies.” The company’s employees reported more than 100 “significant security incidents” in the one-year period leading to May 2023, causing the clothing retailer to permanently close its street-front entrance to keep its staff safe.

The incidents have “poisoned public opinion” against the mall, American Eagle said. “Patrons no longer feel safe because of Westfield’s inaction, and American Eagle is bearing the brunt of Westfield’s abandonment of its obligations.”

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