Midwest megamall tops Ovitz’ development slate

He'll oversee sports/entertainment complex

NEW YORK — Creative Artists Agency co-founder and former Disney Co. prexy Michael Ovitz, who has been keeping a low profile for the past year, has resurfaced, in partnership with Glimcher Realty Trust, as a Midwestern mall developer.

The partnership is for the Mall at Polaris in Columbus, Ohio, which is being developed by Glimcher, also of Columbus, and is designed by David Rockwell and K.A. Architecture. Already signed as initial anchor tenants for the 1.5-million-square-foot development — slated to open in 2000 — are Lord & Taylor, Kauffman’s and Sony-Loews 22.

As a mall partner, the former uber-agent will oversee the mall’s sports and entertainment complex. Ovitz, who was unavailable for comment, is known to have been friendly with the Glimcher family for years.

“It really isn’t surprising that a mall developer would team up with someone in the entertainment business,” said Gary Boston, a real estate analyst at PaineWebber. “It’s another attempt to get people in the mall and keep them in the mall.” The analyst also cited the increasing retail interests of such entertainment providers as Disney, Warner Bros. and even ESPN.

Glimcher, which went public in 1994, owns, manages or leases 119 properties in 24 states. Before moving to larger-scale developments like the 150-store Mall at Polaris, the real estate investment trust specialized in smaller community centers, which are usually anchored by grocery stores.

Glimcher’s funds from operations increased 8.8% on a 19.1% revenues gain in the year ended Dec. 31, prompting analyst Boston to comment: “They’re not only in the midst of a transformation, but a turnaround.”

Ovitz’s name has also been associated recently with one of several efforts to lure an NFL franchise to Los Angeles. A story in the Los Angeles Times linked Ovitz with a proposal to build a stadium and mall at the junction of the San Diego and Harbor Freeways in Carson.

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