New York City Funeral services for shopping-mall pioneer Melvin Simon, co-founder of the country's largest mall owner/operator company, will be held Friday in Indianapolis. Simon died Wednesday after a short illness. He was 82. Details on the circumstances of his death were not revealed.
Hundreds of dignitaries from around the world are expected to attend the funeral, including former VP Al Gore, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Melvin Simon and his younger brother Herb started their real estate company in 1960 as Melvin Simon & Associates, concentrating at first on strip centers anchored by grocery stores and pharmacies. The Indianapolis-based company, which went on to become Simon Property Group., is currently North America’s largest shopping center owner and one of the largest public companies in the United States. It owns or holds stakes in 387 properties, comprising a total of 263 million sq. ft. of gross leasable area across North America, Europe and Asia.
Under Mel’s leadership, the company became known as one of the boldest players in the industry, building such centers as the Forum Shops at Caesars, in Las Vegas (with then-partner The Gordon Co. of Los Angeles), and Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn. (with Canada-based Triple Five).
Simon was known as a colorful and outspoken character, with a wide range of interests. In the 1970s, he ventured to Hollywood, where he produced such movies as "Porky's" and "Porky's II."
He and his brother also helped to revive the Indiana Pacers, a hapless NBA franchise when he bought it in 1983, mainly to prevent it from relocating.
The Simon family has remained the largest shareholder in Simon Property Group, and when the founding brothers stepped down as co-chairmen in 2007, they turned the chairmanship over to Mel's oldest son, David, who had been its CEO since 1995. One daughter, Deborah Simon, leads the Simon Youth Foundation and another, Cindy Simon Skjodt, heads the Pacers Foundation.
Like others in the real estate industry, Simon Properties has been dealing with the fallout from the economic downturn, and the financial crisis. But Simon has fared better than others. It has raised more than $1.6 billion in capital from investors this year and its stock has climbed 42% since the start of the year.