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GLENDALE, CA-Chicago-based mall REIT General Growth Properties has agreed to pay Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso a $48 million settlement in the long and bitter political and legal battle that General Growth waged in an attempt to prevent Caruso from developing his Americana at Brand mixed-use retail, entertainment and residential center here. The $48 million settles an antitrust and anticompetitive lawsuit that Caruso Affiliated Holdings LLC filed in 2004 after General Growth failed in its efforts to halt the Americana at Brand project. Caruso won a judgment of $89.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages in December 2007 in the suit, which General Growth was appealing before the two parties agreed to the settlement.

The Americana at Brand, which opened in the spring of last year, features 475,000 square feet of retail/commercial space, 100 luxury condominiums and 238 apartments on a 16-acre site in Downtown Glendale. The Caruso development is near General Growth’s 1.3-million-square-foot Glendale Galleria regional mall.

The battle between Caruso and General Growth began after the Glendale City Council approved Caruso’s project in April 2004. General Growth supported a referendum for a city-wide election on the project, but Caruso won that round when voters approved the Americana at Brand project in September 2004. General Growth then filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the Caruso project, but the Chicago mall owner lost in the county court and also lost when it appealed the Superior Court’s decision.

Caruso’s lawsuit claimed that, during the two companies’ campaigns on the citywide referendum, General Growth intimidated tenants that were exploring leasing at the Americana at Brand, interfered with Caruso’s business and employed unfair business practices. He called General Growth’s legal battle against his project an attempt to stop fair competition by “systematically attempting to sidetrack” his new mixed-use development.

General Growth owns the Glendale Galleria in a joint venture called GGP/Homart II. The Chicago REIT said that it will not be reimbursed for any portion of the $48 million by its 50% joint venture partner in GGP/Homart II, and it will also reimburse $5.5 million of costs to the joint venture partner in connection with the settlement.

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