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Simon

SIMON

SIMON , family of U.S. entrepreneurs. melvin simon (1926– ) and his brother, herbert (1934– ), the sons of a tailor, were born in Brooklyn, n.y., and raised in the Bronx. Mel earned an accounting degree from the City College of New York and later a master's degree there. He went into the Army, winding up in 1953 at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. He decided to stay in the city. After working as a leasing agent, he studied real estate in college and thought there was great potential. In 1959 he formed his own real-estate investment company, Melvin Simon & Associates, with Herb, who had also worked in real estate. The business was incorporated in 1960, with Mel owning two-thirds of the business and Herb, who was also educated at the City College of New York, the rest. Another brother, Fred, worked for the company but left in 1963. Their parents moved from New York to Indianapolis in 1961. Melvin Simon & Associates began by developing strip shopping centers anchored by groceries and drug stores. Their first shopping center was Southgate Plaza in Bloomington, Ind. Within five years the Simons were developing enclosed malls. By 1967 the company owned and operated more than 3 million square feet of retail property. It continued to expand throughout the country, adding one million square feet of property every year. By the 1980s the company opened three enclosed malls every year. In the 1970s Mel tried his hand at moviemaking. His production company lost millions. In 1983, the brothers bought the professional basketball team the Indiana Pacers. In 1990, david (1961– ), Mel's oldest son, a graduate of the University of Indiana and with a master's from Columbia, joined the company as chief financial officer. He became chief executive officer in 1995. The company went public in 1993, folding most of its properties into Simon Property Group and raising nearly $1 billion, at the time the largest real estate stock offering ever. Following a $3 billion merger with DeBartolo Realty Corporation in 1996, the company became Simon DeBartolo Group, the nation's dominant shopping center owner. In 1998 the company reverted to Simon Property Group, becoming the No. 1 mall owner in the United States. Also in 1998, Simon bought the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing, taking control of six of the seven regional shopping malls in Indianapolis. The company's projects include the Mall of America, outside Minneapolis, completed in 1992, and Circle Center Mall in Indianapolis, which opened in 1995. Overall, the Simons owned or operated about 350 properties in North America, Japan, and Europe. The Simons were known for their philanthropy. The family contributed $9 million toward construction of a research and teaching facility at the University of Indiana. They also served in Indianapolis on the boards of United Cerebral Palsy, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Jewish Welfare Foundation.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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