By  on October 24, 2005

NEW YORK — Sheldon M. Gordon, creator of the extraordinarily productive Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas and other breakthrough retail developments over the past four decades, continues to live on the edge, personally and professionally.

“I never wanted to be the biggest. I always wanted to be the most interesting,” Gordon, now in his mid-70s, said in an interview by cell phone from his 160-foot yacht off the coast of Majorca, as he continued on a yearlong world cruise with his family that included stops in Hong Kong, Oslo and Barcelona.

“I will tell you that I’m not much good at building malls with department stores on a flat piece of farmland.”

Yet he is good at coming up with something different.

In the Gordon pipeline is the Epicenter Collection, a 200,000-square-foot setting for online and catalogue companies — possibly L.L. Bean, Hold Everything and Red Envelope — to have show rooms where shoppers order products by handheld “buy-pods.” Epicenter could make its debut in the Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, Ohio, but other locations are being negotiated and no leases have been signed yet. Epicenter represents Gordon’s answer to filling space in malls left behind by shuttered department stores.

“It’s absolutely not competitive” to other retailers in the mall, he said. “We are creating a whole different type of retailing. It will bring people to the mall who otherwise shop electronically and typically don’t visit malls. In a sense, you are walking through the Web, or you are in a living catalogue. You will see people there answering questions intelligently, instead of stocking shelves, sweeping floors or swiping cards through registers.”

With Epicenter, “we are not in the retail business. We don’t own one [stock-keeping unit] of merchandise. We take a large piece of real estate, and sublease to special types of tenants. We are purely in the real estate business.”

Gordon also is developing Lac Mirabel, a 1.9 million-square-foot project with no department stores, just specialty units; a 100,000-square-foot spa; a 140,000-square-foot aquarium, and a marina. Located 30 minutes north of Montreal and expected to open in 2007, Gordon said it will be the first environmentally friendly shopping center in North America “where we try to create as much energy as we can without using fossil fuels,” including creating a 121-acre lake for cooling purposes.

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