Caruso Affiliated Holdings has broken ground and released an early list of retailers to be housed at Glendale's Americana at Brand, the mixed-use retail and residential development scheduled to open in 2008.

That has to be a relief for Rick Caruso, president and chief executive of Caruso Affiliated. Much like another Caruso just down the Foothill Freeway from Glendale, the project drew intense from some in the community.

"We experienced the same battle with this mall that we are in Arcadia," said Caruso, whose firm became well known in Southern California when it converted a portion of the Los Angeles Farmers Market into the Grove shopping center in 2002.

The Arcadia "battle," which dominates that city's council meetings and virtually fills the bedroom community's local newspapers, has even made national headlines.

Westfield Group, owner of the adjacent and rival Westfield Santa Anita mall, has taken out full-page ads warning that the proposed development will charge for parking and pack the city streets with 30,000 more cars every day.

Both sides are predicting the Arcadia battle will end in a public referendum next year. But Caruso says he's taking it in stride.

After all, he won a monumental battle in Glendale against General Growth Properties Inc., the owner of the adjacent Glendale Galleria. General Growth filed a lawsuit to stop the Americana project even after city voters narrowly approved it in a 2004 special election that cost both sides more than $1 million each. The lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful but not before General Growth pursued appeals nearly to the state Supreme Court.

The Americana is a $320 million mixed-use development on 15.5 acres in Glendale. It's expected to draw shoppers from Los Feliz, Silverlake, Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles. The 900,000-square-foot development will have 475,000 square feet of retail along with 238 apartments and 100 luxury condos.

Over 30 years, Glendale estimates the project will bring $124 million in incremental property tax and $51 million in sales tax. "I think it's going to be even more successful than The Grove," Caruso said. "I'd stake my reputation on it."

On the retail list for Glendale are Lacoste, famous for its born-again crocodile logo; Juicy Couture, the top dog in high-end tee shirts and sweats; and H & M;, the youth-targeted clothing retailer. Others are women's clothing and home accessory store Anthropologie, sophisticated A/X Armani Exchange, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, natural products purveyor Kiehl's, popular sportswear manufacturer Puma and urban youth haven Urban Outfitters. The open-air mall will also feature an 18-screen cineplex theater.

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