After signing a July 2003 letter of intent to negotiate a lease at the Americana, the Cheesecake Factory did not sign a lease until February 2007. Soon after signing the initial letter of intent, the restaurant’s real estate agents stalled in getting back to Caruso representatives, attorneys said during the trial.
Officials with General Growth, the second-largest mall group in the country, said the issue is now settled.
This “settlement allows us to put this matter behind us and focus on the company’s ongoing operations and strategic evaluations,” said Adam Metz, interim chief executive of the company in a statement.
General Growth lost more than 96% of its value last year and is in the midst of a wholesale effort to sell its assets to pay the company’s ballooning debt. The mall owner’s stock price fell from a high of $65.55 in February 2007 to less than $2 today.
The clock is still ticking on General Growth’s $900-million debt it owes to two Las Vegas malls — Fashion Show and Palazzo — that is due Feb. 12 after a series of delays. In addition to the Glendale Galleria, General Growth owns 200 million square feet of retail space and more than 24,000 retail stores nationwide.
In a statement, Rick Caruso, president and chief executive of Caruso Affiliated, said he felt vindicated and also considers the matter complete.
“I am very pleased with this settlement and having this matter resolved in our favor,” he said. “The jury verdict sent a clear message that proper business ethics will always prevail.”
Many in the city hope that the settlement puts to rest the rancor that largely defined early relations between the Americana and the Galleria when Caruso’s mall was bidding to open in downtown.
There are indications such harmony is already taking place. Before the holidays, representatives from the two malls met numerous times to share selling tips and both have described relations as positive.
“Hopefully the acrimony between the two parties is over and everyone can begin to work together to try and maintain some good shopping options for Glendale residents,” Councilman Frank Quintero said.