FORUM GROWS AT CAESARS

Byline: Michael Marlow / Kristi Ellis

LAS VEGAS — With all the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas-style show, The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, one of the most productive and entertaining malls in America, has unveiled a new $100 million expansion showcasing top brand-name stores such as Fendi, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Niketown, A|X Armani Exchange and DKNY.
The second phase of the retail development, as with phase one, which was launched in 1992, is fully rigged to dazzle. It repeats the ancient Roman streetscape effect with classic Roman columns, marble statues, arches, central piazzas and ornate fountains. It also extends the barrel-vaulted, day-to-night ceiling depicting a Mediterranean sky that changes from sunshine and clouds to midnight blue with stars and a gleaming moon. However, the new addition takes the visual effects and mall technology to a higher level, with its giant Trojan Horse, 50,000-gallon marine aquarium maintained by three staff biologists, and its 85-foot high Great Roman Hall, which features a show of animatronic Roman Gods and gladiators.
The Forum’s second phase brings an additional 283,000 square feet of selling space and 35 new tenants to the indoor mall, which now stands at 533,000 square feet. Construction on the expansion began in January 1996. The opening gala, held last Thursday, drew 2,200 guests.
According to the developers, Simon DeBartolo Group and Gordon Group Holdings, the stores post an average of $1,200 to $1,300 in sales per square foot on an annualized basis, making The Forum Shops one of the most productive malls in the U.S. The average mall posts $350 to $400 in sales per square foot. The original Forum Shops brings in about $300 million in retail sales each year.
Phase one brought more than 70 stores, including Gucci, Gianni Versace, Versus, Louis Vuitton, Guess, The Disney Store and Warner Bros. Studio Store. It connects to Caesars Palace, which fronts the strip.
Among the new tenants in the expansion, who are paying between $250 and $300 per square foot for rent, is the Shauna Stein designer store. She said she’s projecting first-year sales at $4 million in her 3,200-square-foot shop, which includes a 500-square-foot Dolce & Gabbana boutique. Her other store is in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
“I really have a strong following from Los Angeles,” Stein said.”There is a huge cross-section of people here. I would equate this location to Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive.”
“I would have to be catatonic not to do business in this center,” said David Salz, president and chief executive officer of Alfred Dunhill USA.
Bernini, the Los Angeles-based upscale men’s store, has rolled out a new Bernini Collections store.
There’s already a less pricy Bernini unit in phase one, a 4,000-square-foot unit that rings up $1,700 in sales per square foot, or about $6.8 million annually.
“This place is a lot better than a slot machine,” said Steven K. Hill, vice president of Bernini.
Other retailers housed in the expansion are Emporio Armani, Abercrombie & Fitch, DKNY, Hugo Boss, Diesel, Lacoste and Virgin Megastore.
Aside from raising the bar on retail entertainment, the mall has a strong location, linking two of Las Vegas’s hottest casino hotels, the Mirage and Caesars Palace.
About 50,000 visitors file through the shopping center each day.

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