Grapevine Anchors away, RU leaving?, Trump card

//May 30, 2011//

Grapevine Anchors away, RU leaving?, Trump card

//May 30, 2011//

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Anchors away, now returning
Canadian conglomerate Triple Five appears to be making progress in lining up retailers for American Dream, the massive entertainment and retail complex formerly known as Xanadu in the Meadowlands.

Bloomingdale’s has already made a commitment to be an anchor tenant at the project, according to a source that spoke with the Mall of America owner during the International Council of Shopping Centers’ conference in Las Vegas last week. Triple Five, which officially unveiled plans for American Dream earlier this month, also is close to finalizing a commitment with Saks Fifth Avenue to be another anchor, the source said.

Those two deals “are really indicative of how aggressive they’re going to be in signing tenants,” the source said. “They are already apparently discussing with numerous other tenants to commit there, especially based on those two anchors committing.”

Triple Five “is also looking for tenants to show and display their stores differently” than they would at other malls, the source said. “Each tenant is going to have to think out of the box, and not do the normal concept that they would do.”

President: RU leaving?
Chatter continues among those connected to Rutgers that Richard McCormick will be leaving the university.

But a source very familiar with the president dismissed the talk: “I don’t think that the rumors are accurate, but I do think the president’s always reassessing his status at Rutgers.”

Some consider Phil Furmanski‘s recently announced exit a harbinger, but the dismissive source said the executive VP’s plans should not be viewed as an indicator of what McCormick might do. “Folks are missing the mark” if they think there’s a connection, the source said.

Furmanski’s departure has raised eyebrows because he was reportedly brought to Rutgers to handle the medical school integration of the merger of Rutgers, UMDNJ and the New Jersey Institute of Technology proposed in the Jim McGreevey days. People have questioned why Furmanski would leave now, when the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger is again a hot topic.

But a source familiar with the history of medical school discussions said, “It is highly unlikely (McCormick) would leave before the restructuring of the medical school is resolved.”

Rutgers had no comment as of press time.

Playing its Trump card
Interest is increasing among possible buyers of key Atlantic City properties.
Talks for the sale of the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort are in the due diligence stage and are down to two parties — one contender got bounced when it couldn’t prove it had access to funding — according to an attorney. But a third party, an investor group from China, made a late bid that could spice things up, according to the source.

Whoever gets the property probably will have to rename it, added the source, since the license to use the Hilton name previously expired, and has been periodically renewed on a short-term basis.

Also, a bona fide offer already has been made for the Trump Plaza, according to a lawyer close to the negotiations. A Trump spokesman said the company would have nothing to add to Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Robert F. Griffin‘s recent comments that the company would consider renovating or selling the Trump Plaza Hotel Casino.

Finally, offers for the troubled Pier Shops at Caesars Mall will be made
by June 2, according to an attorney with knowledge of the negotiations. Previous Pier Shops owner Taubman Centers Inc. returned the property to its lenders, and a buyer will likely have to redeem an outstanding $80.5 million note — that’s likely to be settled for half that amount — and other loans, according to the source.

Retaining star players
The opening event for the nonprofit Choose New Jersey — bringing corporate relocation advisers together with President Tracye McDaniel for the NCAA East Regionals — proved to be such a hit that the organization is looking for an encore.

McDaniel is again planning to host corporate executives in the PSEG suite at the Prudential Center, this time for the NBA draft June 23. The theme of the event is the state’s efforts to retain companies, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at [email protected].