Mall developer fight continues

GLENDALE — A judge ordered a confidential tenant list be returned to the owners of the Glendale Galleria in their continuing legal fight with the developers of Americana at Brand.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Laura Matz ordered Caruso Affiliated, the developers of the Americana site, Jan. 23 to return a list of tenants at the Galleria — which contained confidential financial and contact information — to the mall's owners, General Growth Properties Inc.

But Caruso officials said the ruling was insignificant, given an anticipated trial for a $40-million antitrust lawsuit originally filed by the developer against General Growth Properties in February 2004.

A trial date for that case is expected to be set for this summer, said Rick Moses, senior vice president of development for Caruso Affiliated.

"This is obviously a very, very minor issue in the grand scope of things," he said of the ruling.

While the ruling appears to be an initial setback for the Americana developers, General Growth was not satisfied with Caruso Affiliated's response.

"General Growth believes Caruso Affiliated has not yet fully complied with the court order and we will aggressively continue to ensure the return of all documents," said General Growth attorney David Battaglia in a statement.

The court action has no ties to the city, which finished its own round of lawsuits with General Growth in 2005.

"It has nothing to do with the city," said City Manager Jim Starbird.

"As far as we're concerned, we're on good terms with both of them."

Lawyers for General Growth filed an injunction against Caruso's possession of the list on Dec. 1 as a way to "prevent Caruso Affiliated from utilizing the confidential information to garner potential clients," the company said in a statement.

Likewise, Caruso Affiliated's 2004 lawsuit contends General Growth officials engaged in interference and unfair business practices by strong-arming their tenants away from potential deals at Americana through forced partnerships and intimidation.

Caruso alleged that Galleria owners threatened Cheesecake Factory officials with dissolved deals at other General Growth malls if they signed an Americana lease.

Officials from both of those companies have denied that claim.

So far, about 70% of the retail space at Americana at Brand has been filled by the likes of Kiehl's, Swedish clothing giant H&M;, Anthropologie and Puma, Moses said.

In that vein, he said, his company has no use for the contentious list of tenants.

"We're happy to give it back," he said.

The $324-million mixed-use project, which will neighbor the Galleria at the corner of Harvard Street and Brand Boulevard, will feature 900,000-square feet of retail, residential and entertainment space and is on track to open in spring 2008, Moses said.

In the meantime, Glendale's current retail titan, the Galleria, continues to dominate the landscape with 1.4-million-square feet of retail space that generated more than $450 million last year.

  • JASON WELLS covers public safety and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3239.
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