Arthur Coppola, a founding partner of the Macerich Group and chairman chief executive officer of the Macerich Company, on Thursday announced his retirement after 42 years. Lead board director Steven Hash will become the independent chairman as Macerich begins the process of finding a permanent ceo.

Coppola agreed not stand for reelection as a director at Macerich’s 2018 annual shareholders meeting. His retirement is effective as of December.

From its formation in 1993 and its initial public offering in 1994, the Macerich Co. has grown under Coppola’s leadership from a privately held real estate firm with a total market capitalization of $600 million to an S&P 500 publicly traded real estate investment trust a total market capitalization of more than $16 billion.

Macerich from 1994 to the end of 2017 delivered a shareholder return of 1,415 percent compared to the S&P 500’s total of 816 percent during the same period. 

Macerich’s portfolio of 48 retail properties totaling 54 million square feet includes Queens Center in Elmhurst, N.Y.; Biltmore Fashion Park, Phoenix; Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Corner, Va., and Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, Calif.

Coppola said he’s proud of “consistently being ahead of the curve as retail has transformed. Macerich has achieved a creative dominance in the market and been a leader in sustainability. I’m excited to see Macerich centers becoming America’s new town squares and downtowns and Macerich emerge as a leader in developing digitally native brands.” 

Competitor Simon Property Group’s 2015 attempt at a hostile takeover of Macerich, and the board’s subsequent rejection of Simon’s sweetened $16.8 billion, or $95.50 a share offer was met with backlash from shareholders, including Orange County and Land & Buildings, which cited “egregious governance missteps undertaken by Macerich in relation to their refusal to meaningfully engage with Simon Property Group.” Coppola weathered the period by “recycling” out of lower growth assets, redeploying capital into highly productive assets and completing expansion and redevelopment projects that were under way at the time.

Coppola was a member of the board of governors of the executive committee of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts from 2005 to 2010, and was chairman of the board of governors in 2007. He received in 2009 the NAREIT Industry Leadership Award. All told, Mr. Coppola has more than 42 years of experience in the shopping center industry. 

Macerich stock closed at $57.55, down 52 cents on the New York Stock Exchange.