By  on June 22, 2005

NEW YORK — Sheldon Gordon, chairman of the privately held Gordon Group Holdings, has always been a believer when it comes to gambling and shopping.

So he seized the opportunity last year to bring upscale fashion and restaurants to Atlantic City, N.J. The Pier at Caesars, a $200 million, 575,000-square-foot complex rising on the site of an existing pier and extending 900 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, is to open in February. It will have 100 stores and nine restaurants and bars, and the retail component is 90 percent leased, he said.

Compared with the Las Vegas Strip, which has morphed into a giant mall with casinos, Atlantic City has been slow to recognize the power of gambling and shopping. It is due for a renaissance, Gordon said.

"There's a lot of upgrading going on," he said, citing the Tropicana, which added 200,000 feet of retail with stores such as Mondi, Brooks Brothers, Swarovski, and The Collection by Tahari.

"I was told people would not shop where they gamble," Gordon said. "The whole town is exploding," and gambling is "the greatest arena in the world for shopping."

About 20 percent of the retail tenants at the Pier at Caesars are considered luxury brands; the rest are "interesting, popular-price tenants," Gordon said.

Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Hugo Boss, BCBG, Ferragamo, Tourneau, Bebe, Bebe Sport, A/X Armani Exchange, Kenneth Cole, Coach, Quiksilver, Victoria's Secret, Steve Madden, Finish Line, Stuart Weitzman, Guess, Tommy Bahama, MAC, Movado and Vilebrequin, a Saint-Tropez-based store selling beachwear, are among the retailers that signed on. Gordon predicted that the Pier would do $1,000 in sales per square foot in the first year.

Gordon, whose other credits include developing the Forum Shops at Caesar's in Las Vegas, San Francisco Center, Bridgemarket in New York and Pearlridge and Kahala Mall in Honolulu, brought the first big-name chef, Wolfgang Puck, to Las Vegas in 1992. Gordon has tapped high-profile restaurateurs and chefs such as Jeffrey Chodorow, Todd English, Stephen Starr, Patrick Lyons and Phillips Seafood of Baltimore for the Pier.

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