Wave Wire Service
WEST LOS ANGELES — UCLA has acquired the former Westside Pavilion shopping mall in a $700 million deal for use as the UCLA Research Park, which will house an immunology center aimed at developing new treatments for cancer and other health ailments, officials announced Jan. 3.
“This acquisition will be absolutely transformative for UCLA, our great city and the world,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement.
“We will remake the empty former mall into a state-of-the-art hub of research and innovation that will bring scholars from different higher education institutions, corporate partners, government agencies and startups together to explore new areas of inquiry and achieve breakthroughs that will serve our global society,” he said.
The acquisition of the 700,000-square-foot former mall site, located two miles south of the Westwood campus, was made possible in part by an intended $500 million investment, with $200 million already allocated from the state of California to establish and fund the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at UCLA, officials said.
Google — which previously leased part of the property as an office site — helped enable and support UCLA’s acquisition, and favorable real estate market conditions also played a part in the opportunity, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
The academic hub and its multidisciplinary research centers, the immunology and immunotherapy institute and the UCLA Center for Quantum Science and Engineering, will take about 64 months to complete, the governor said during a news conference.
“California is the epicenter of global innovation. From the creation of the internet to the dominance of artificial intelligence, humanity’s future happens here first,” Newsom said. “Leveraging the next waves of technology and science — quantum computing and the immense potential of immunology — the UCLA Research Park will cement California’s global economic, scientific and technological dominance into the 22nd century, and beyond.”
The institute will draw on UCLA faculty members, scholars from different higher education institutions, and other leading scientists and practitioners in clinical and biomedical scientific research, including human genetics, genomics, computer science, engineering and information science, according to UCLA.
Researchers will pursue new tools, treatments and vaccines for cancer, autoimmune and immune deficiency disorders, infectious diseases, allergies, heart conditions, solid organ transplantation and other major health-related issues, according to the university.
“UCLA’s goal is to build the immunology equivalent of Silicon Valley in Los Angeles,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for health sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “Given the university’s expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, we are expecting to attract the world’s best scientists in immunology and immunotherapy, as well as top students.”
The UCLA Research Park will also serve campus units spanning the disciplines, as well as the broader university community. In addition to its flexible work areas, the former mall includes a full 12-screen multiplex movie theater that may be converted into lecture halls or performance spaces, allowing UCLA to offer programming across the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences.
“The research park directly embodies UCLA’s strategic priority of expanding scholarship and engagement to benefit the public good,” said Roger Wakimoto, UCLA’s vice chancellor for research and creative activities. “The park’s scientific, technological, humanistic and creative advances will help to promote economic growth throughout the Southern California region and beyond.”
A fixture of West Los Angeles since its opening in 1985, the Westside Pavilion became a busy retail location and gathering spot and continued to evolve over the following three decades. At one time, the site featured a three-level bookstore and multiple movie theaters and appeared as a backdrop in numerous movies and TV shows. Over the past decade, it suffered from a decline alongside other indoor malls across the country, leaving storefronts largely empty.
“We recognize the former Westside Pavilion’s place in L.A.’s history and are grateful for the chance to turn the empty former mall into the future home of discoveries that will change the world,” Block said.