SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento officials are calling the news of a new ownership group for Downtown Plaza a historic day for the city.

San Francisco-based real estate and development firm JMA Ventures announced Wednesday that it purchased the struggling mall from Australia-based Westfield Group. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and other city officials held a press conference after the news and the mayor said the project will “have a catalytic impact” on the downtown region.

“You’re going to see new life really breathing into the Downtown Plaza,” Johnson said. “The deal closed yesterday and we’re very excited with our new partner.”

It didn’t take long for the new owners to make their mark. Wednesday morning they painted over some of the old Westfield signs and painted a fresh coat on the walls.

“We know we have a partner that has capital and has a commitment,” Johnson said.

But, as of right now, that partner doesn’t have a plan. JMA will spend the next 90 days figuring out what changes to make to the struggling downtown property.

“They have over $500 million in assets and a whole bunch of different types of property,” said Kunal Merchant with Sacramento’s Think Big initiative.

The Downtown Plaza will be JMA’s first shopping mall. Most of the company’s holdings are restaurants, office space, and residential buildings. They also own Homewood ski resort and a share in the Alpine and Squaw Valley resorts in Lake Tahoe.

“There’s a new commitment, a new day, a new era for Downtown Plaza,” Johnson said.

The mayor says the sale was one of his biggest priorities. But he too doesn’t know what’s next. He hopes the future will be a mall that faces outward and reopening K Street right through what’s now the center of the mall.

Chris Corvi, the owner of Art 4 Art Sake tattoo parlor, hopes any change will be good.

“I’m happy, I’m very happy. Westfield had just stopped caring about this mall,” he said. “This was just the ugly stepchild that lived in the corner and didn’t get cared about.”

Downtown Plaza was built in 1971 and redeveloped in 1993, but the down economy has taken its toll on the mall, with many storefronts now sitting vacant.

Westfield owns more than 100 shopping centers around the world, including the Roseville Galleria. It said in a brief statement that the Downtown Plaza sale continues its “strategy of divesting non-core assets in the U.S.,” according to a Sacramento Bee report.


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