by Max Brantley
There was a hearing in the University Mall case this morning. Federal Judge Bill Wilson reiterated, as he'd already indicated in a letter, that he's finding for the landowners against mall manager Simon Property Group for failure to adequately maintain the near-dead mall. Wilson is moving expeditiously, observers said.
I've now posted one of the documents the landowners presented to the court, a prooposed permanent injunction that would require repairs that would cost in excess of $7.5 million, not counting an unspecified amount to correct mold and asbestos problems, plus employment of a special master to oversee the work. Simon attorneys argued that putting more money into the outdated mall is not a good option and that redevelopment is preferable. I suspect the landowners don't disagree with that assessment, but how redevelopment is accomplished, by whom and with what payment by Simon are trickier questions.
An order for millions in repairs to a mall that Simon can't operate profitably once the work is done -- in addition to the legal fees and costs that Simon has been ordered to pay --will be powerful leverage on Simon to consider whatever alternate solution the landowners might have in mind.