Mall Battle in Columbus

There's a battle going on in Columbus. At issue is Columbus City Center, a property Simon Property Group acquired when it bought Mills Corp. earlier this year.

Apparently, the city has been unhappy with progress in revitalizing the center for years--something Simon had nothing to do with since it didn't own the property until a few months ago--and has chosen now as the time to press the issue.

From the Columbus Times-Dispatch:

At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Michael B. Coleman and others categorized TL-Columbus -- made up of the General Motors Pension Fund and Simon Property Group -- as "absentee landlords" who have turned a blind eye to the 18-year-old property.

But Simon Property CEO David Simon took exception to that depiction last night, saying his company had a deal to sell City Center to a local group that included developer Don M. Casto III. Simon said the group had been working with Retail Ventures Inc., which includes Value City Department Stores, to operate stores inside the mall.

Simon called yesterday's news conference by city leaders "a shock" and "bush league."

"We've worked with cities and states throughout the United States, and I've never had a mayor call me, solicit my input, ask for encouragement on the terms of the sale, and find out really out of the blue that this was about to take place," he said.

"We think something sinister is going on.

More on the saga in an op-ed in yesterday's Indianapolis Star.

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