Hoosier Hall of Fame: Simon’s Ripple Effects

A young New Yorker’s decision to invest in Indianapolis real estate hits nothing but net.

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This story is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s 2016 Indiana Bicentennial coverage, which includes our list of the 200 Hoosier Hall of Fame picks, designated throughout in bold or highlighted. For more on this celebration of the state’s first two centuries, click here.

 

1953

U.S. Army transfers Melvin “Mel” Simon to Fort Benjamin Harrison

The son of an immigrant who grew up in the Bronx, Simon sells encyclopedias door to door to make extra money in Indy, where he remains after his discharge.

1960

Establishment of Melvin Simon & Associates

Simon sees the potential in commercial real estate while working as a leasing agent with an Indy company that manages strip malls. His brother Herbert “Herb” Simon, who followed Mel here, partners in the business.

Late 1960s

Simon & Associates owns more than 3 million square feet of retail property around the U.S.

1979

Breaking with its mostly suburban business model, Simon & Associates presents plans for a shopping mall in the heart of downtown Indy

1983

The Simons purchase the Indiana Pacers

The franchise was previously in such dire straits that it took a telethon to save the team from folding.

1987

The Pacers draft a skinny shooting guard from UCLA named Reggie Miller

Indiana fans attending the draft boo the selection, disappointed that IU star Steve Alford was passed over.

1990s

The Pacers face “Hicks vs. Knicks” rival New York five times in the NBA playoffs

Highlights: Miller scoring 8 points in 8.9 seconds at the end of a come-from-behind win in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. Miller trash-talking with director and Knicks fan Spike Lee. Miller throwing Lee a choke sign while dropping 39 on the Knicks in game five of the 1994 Conference Finals.

1993

Simon & Associates goes public as Simon Property Group with a $1 billion IPO

After several mergers, Simon Property becomes the largest mall operator in the United States.

1995

Circle Centre completed

The first major piece in a decades-long building boom, the mall helps transform Indy’s downtown from sleepy business district to thriving entertainment and lifestyle magnet.

1997

Larry Bird comes back to Indiana to coach the Pacers

After spending his entire NBA career in Boston, Larry Legend returning home for his first-ever coaching job is a major coup for the Pacers; Indianapolis bleeds blue and gold (Peyton, who?).

1999

Conseco (now Bankers Life) Fieldhouse completed in downtown Indianapolis

The venue routinely ranks at or near the top of lists of the NBA’s best.

2000

Pacers reach the NBA finals

The team becomes the first Indianapolis franchise to compete for a championship in a major professional sports league.

2009

Mel Simon dies at age 82

The previous year, Forbes had him ranked as the 147th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion. By then, his son, David, had become CEO of Simon Property.

2012

Simon Property Group becomes largest real-estate investment trust in the world and claims the company is worth $85 billion

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