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LAS VEGAS-A limited partnership managed by developer Sheldon Gordon is suing Simon Property Group for racketeering and seeking $1 billion over the Forum Shops mall here, which the two opened in 1992. At issue is Simon’s 2003 acquisition of Gordon’s 42% share in the 500,000-sf mall for about $175 million.Gordon and other parties, suing in the US District Court for the District of Nevada through a limited partnership named GK Las Vegas, claim that Simon withheld information and acquired its portion of the Forum Shops “at a price substantially below its true market value.” The partnership also accuses Simon of skimming profits and says the Indianapolis-based mall owner “exploited the Forum Shops for the benefit of other Simon wholly-owned malls.”Simon says it will “vigorously defend” against the suit.”Any allegation by Mr. Gordon that Simon Property Group coerced him into selling his interest in the Forum Shops at Caesars at below its value is baseless as it was Mr. Gordon who initiated the process,” says a statement released by Les Morris, Simon’s corporate spokesperson. “Since Mr. Gordon voluntarily triggered the buy/sell provision of the partnership agreement, he controlled the timing of the transaction and the sales price of his interest.”Simon bought out Gordon’s 42% share in the Forum Shops last year for $174 million. The deal took place after Gordon, claiming Simon had mismanaged the mall, demanded that the company either buy or sell its stake in the property. The transaction occurred while Simon was engaged in a takeover bid for Taubman Centers, which it later withdrew. Gordon aligned his company with Taubman during the proposed bid and said he would have sold a portion of the Forum Shops to that company had Simon decided to sell its stake.The Forum Shops, attached to the Caesars Palace hotel and casino, is one of the world’s most successful malls based on its sales per sf, which Gordon claims are in excess of $1,300. Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton are among the center’s upscale tenants.Simon has had other legal difficulties this month. About three weeks ago courts in Minneapolis ruled that the company transfer its 27.5% interest in Mall Of America, Bloomington, MN, the country’s largest, to development partner Triple Five Corp. Canada-based Triple Five had claimed that Simon breached a contract agreement, when it acquired a majority of the center in 1999. Simon is appealing that case in the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.Simon is the largest mall owner in North America with 245 centers in 37 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. The company also owns interests in 48 European centers and is buying Chelsea Property Group, the owner of 60 outlet centers across the country.Gordon is principal of the Greenwich, CT-based Gordon Group, which has developed San Francisco Center, Bridgemarket in New York City, Pearlridge and Kahala Mall in Honolulu. The company is currently redeveloping Ocean One Pier in Atlantic City, NJ.

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