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LAS VEGAS-Simon Property Group opened its 175,000-sf expansion of The Forum Shops at Caesars, one of the most successful malls in the country with sales per sf of $1,432. The $139 million project, which adds 57 retailers, brings the center to 675,000 sf.

The expansion has given the mall, in the Caesars Palace casino and hotel, an entrance on the city’s famous Strip, and some of the new retailers have storefronts on the sidewalk. About 50,000 people walk through the mall everyday, and the size increase and new, high-profile entrance could push that number up by 10% says Maureen Crampton, the mall’s director of marketing. Sales per sf could also rise, she says. “We feel we’re going to hold steady at $1,400 if not exceed it,” Crampton says.

New retailers in the high-fashion center include Harry Winston, Kate Spade and Tommy Bahama. Apparel company Juicy Couture is opening its first retail store in the center, Crampton says. The new retailers join a lineup made up of Burberry, Gucci, Virgin Megastore and others.

Simon started the most current Forum Shops renovation early last year. In 1997 the company expanded the center by about 220,000 sf. Simon built Forum Shops with the Greenwich, CT-based Gordon Group in 1992.

The Gordon Group sold its 42% interest in mall to Simon 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 Gordon Group is now suing Simon over the sale for $1 billion, litigation that Simon says it will “vigorously defend” against.

Last week Simon closed on its acquisition of Chelsea Property Group, making the company the largest outlet center owner with 60 properties. Simon was already the largest mall owner in the country, with 244 centers.

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