Sheldon M. Gordon

While many people attribute the explosion of Las Vegas to Steve Wynn, chairman of Mirage Resorts, Steve Wynn insists the credit must be shared with Sheldon Gordon, founder of Gordon Group and visionary behind The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, opened in 1992. Boasting the highest volume sales per square foot in America, The Forum Shops was the first nongaming attraction in Las Vegas turning the city from a gamblers-only hotspot to a haven for tourists worldwide.

Such accolades are not uncommon for a man whose developments are considered revolutionary. Since 1970, Mr. Gordon has created properties with never-before-seen features. In Hawaii, when he was required to preserve an environmentally protected watercress farm in the location of the Pearlridge Mall, his solution was to build the mall in two sections flanking the farm and connecting them with the first-ever shopping center monorail system. When an eight-lane highway presented an obstacle to creating Vallco Park in Cupertino, CA, he created another revolutionary concept — a merchandise bridge spanning the highway.

In addition, retail located above a parking garage was unheard of in America until Mr. Gordon created The Beverly Center in 1980. And in the creation of the San Francisco Center, a nine-story vertical mall, he designed a concept that featured the first and only spiral escalators in the Western Hemisphere. In recent years, Gordon Group developed Bridgemarket in New York City and the Shops at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

Mr. Gordon’s skyrocketing career in real estate development has spanned nearly four decades. Though he began in high finance — first as a runner on the Chicago Board of Trade at the age of 15 and later specializing in international trade at the Wall Street banking and investment firm of Bear Stearns and Company — he discovered his aptitude for real estate in 1954 when he moved to San Francisco and joined Milton Myer & Company, a real estate leasing and development firm. Within two years, he held the position of Manager of their Commercial Department, a position he held until 1965. That year, he formed a partnership with E. Phillip Lyon, known as The Phillip Lyon Gordon Company, which endured for 18 years. When Mr. Lyon retired in 1983, Mr. Gordon started The Gordon Company.

To create The Forum Shops, Mr. Gordon once again did the inconceivable. While everyone told him it would never work, he bet everything he had to finance the project. His instincts told him that consumers are looking for fantasy and ways to escape, and that more people would come to Las Vegas if there was more than just gambling. To achieve his vision for Las Vegas he enlisted Wolfgang Puck to create the first celebrity chef restaurant, he also lured high-end retailers and award-winning entertainment providers. In so doing, he created the next generation of retail complex where shopping is just one of the exciting elements.