Financing is sought for mall at Foxwoods

A Greenwich-based developer of specialty retail projects plans to develop an upscale outlet mall at Foxwoods Resort Casino, a project Foxwoods officials would not discuss Wednesday.

Sheldon Gordon, chairman of Gordon Group Holdings, said he is in the process of securing financing for The Outlet Shoppes at Foxwoods, a 320,000-square-foot mall with space for 85 stores.

"These will be the best outlet stores in the world," he said.

Gordon has been involved in numerous major retail projects, including The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City, The Beverly Center in Los Angeles and The Shops at Mohegan Sun.

Foxwoods officials said in a press release Wednesday that the casino will announce several initiatives at a Feb. 15 event, promising "major news on property development and expansion."

The date is the 20th anniversary of Foxwoods' 1992 opening.

Neither Foxwoods nor Mashantucket Pequot tribal officials responded to requests for comment on the outlet mall. The Mashantuckets own Foxwoods, including MGM Grand at Foxwoods, a second casino that opened next to the first one in May 2008.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council informed tribal members of the mall project months ago, tribal sources said.

Gordon, in a telephone interview, said he expected work on the outlet mall to begin in about four months. He said his firm would own the mall, which would be built on land the firm would lease from the tribe. The site is in front of Foxwoods' Grand Pequot Hotel, he said.

"We will be building out over the road in front of the Grand Pequot," he said. "When you drive in, it will be right there. You'll be facing the project."

Gordon declined to provide an estimate of the project's cost. "I have an idea, but I'd just as soon not speculate," he said.

Numerous casino-expansion proposals and other construction projects around the country have stalled in recent years for lack of financing. Both the Mashantuckets and the Mohegan Tribe, which owns Mohegan Sun, have been dealing with huge debt loads amid a recession-induced downturn in their business.

The outlet mall described by Gordon would be much smaller than the 800,000-square-foot, 130-store Crystal Mall in Waterford, but larger than the Clinton Crossing Premier Outlets, which comprise about 275,000 square feet and 70 stores.

Gordon said most of the stores that would occupy space in the Foxwoods mall "are lined up," but he declined to name any of them. He said the list includes "outlet versions" of some of the high-end stores he's located in other projects.

Stores in The Forum Shops at Caesars, for example, include Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., according to the Caesars Palace website.

In its press release Wednesday, Foxwoods announced it would celebrate its 20th anniversary with special promotions throughout February. It said it would unveil "a new, unrivaled rewards program, a sleek new brand platform and web and mobile enhancements.

"Foxwoods also will reveal major plans for business development," the press release said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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