Bolts in Rocks Have Climbers Screaming From Mountaintops

Bolts in Rocks Have Climbers Screaming From Mountaintops

Patrick Seurynck was scaling a dangerous 400-foot granite cliff near Aspen, Colo., last June when his partner above yelled down some disturbing news: "The anchors are gone!"

The 48-year-old Mr. Seurynck, who has been climbing rocks for 10 years, had just spent weeks drilling and placing numerous stainless-steel bolts for securing ropes. He knew immediately what had happened: A bolt chopper had struck. He climbed down safely, fuming.

"It was just arrogant audacity," says Mr. Seurynck, still riled.

Whether to bolt or not is a smoldering question in rock climbing these days as the sport comes to grips with growing popularity....

Retail Riddle: Is Shopping Entertainment?

Retail Riddle: Is Shopping Entertainment?

EDWARD B. VINSON, development chief for mall builder Mills Corp., strode through a vast 128,000 square-foot Bass Pro Shops Inc. store in suburban Maryland last week, gesturing to the thousands of rods and reels, guns and ammo, bows and arrows, and then to the fish tank, a rock-climbing wall, motorboats, tents, beef jerky and camouflage overalls.

"It's a happening," he said, waving his arms. "A happening."

Actually, it's a store. But the question of how much a Bass Pro Shop is also a "happening" -- an entertainment experience -- is at the heart of a question confounding mall builders: Where does shopping end and entertainment begin?

That retail riddle is central to a fight over development rights to a 104-acre part of the New Jersey Meadowlands....

The Mall Rules

The Mall Rules

Paramus, N.J. -- PUSHING HER 16-month-old son, Aidan, in a stroller shaped like a race car, Kelly Hallquist paused during a recent manic day of Christmas shopping to reflect on their surroundings, the Garden State Plaza.

"We live here," Ms. Hallquist, 36 years old, says contentedly of this particularly massive shopping mall near New York City. "This is our mall." Ms. Hallquist's mother, Paula Farrow, 59, who is minding four-year-old Hannah, is less enthusiastic than her daughter: "She drags me here," Ms. Farrow says.

For a half-century now, shoppers' ambivalence has flowed like piped-in music through the all-American shopping mall. The mall has been loved, hated and pronounced to be as obsolete as the dodo. But detractors take note: It's alive!

In fact, by several financial measures, the battleship of retail channels has never been healthier than it is this holiday season....

Shakeup: Rechler Out, Rechler Out, Rechler...

Shakeup: Rechler Out, Rechler Out, Rechler...

HOW DO YOU remove your father, your brother, an uncle and a cousin from their jobs?

Very delicately.

That's what shareholders of underperforming Reckson Associates Realty Corp. learned last month, when the large New York-area office-building owner announced a restructuring that included the resignation of four members of the founding Rechler family and the ascension of Scott Rechler, formerly co-chief executive with his uncle, Donald, to lone CEO.

Reckson, one of the hottest real-estate investment trusts of the late 1990s as it expanded from its longtime base in Long Island, N.Y., into New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere, said the restructuring "significantly improves corporate governance," and it does.

The catch: The company also sold the Rechlers its warehouse empire on Long Island for $315 million -- about $60 million below a value estimated by Green Street Advisors Inc., a Newport Beach, Calif., real-estate research firm, in a recent report on Reckson. Other analysts agree the price seems low.

The property wasn't offered for sale to third parties nor did the deal require a shareholder vote. Citigroup Inc. prepared a detailed fairness opinion on behalf of a special board committee. But Scott Rechler says Citigroup won't allow its release. "This is a Citi thing," the 35-year-old Mr. Rechler said recently over a breakfast of six scrambled egg whites at Manhattan's posh Peninsula Hotel. "I was surprised by that."

In a statement, Citigroup said fairness opinions are given to boards confidentially to assist in deliberations. "It is customary to publicly disclose such opinions when the transaction requires a shareholder vote," but not otherwise, it said.

Reckson defenders say the deal represents a kind of realism: The Rechlers wouldn't go away otherwise. "I frankly think the family members got a pretty good deal," says Louis Taylor, a Deutsche Bank analyst who has a "hold" rating on Reckson shares. "But a number of people had concerns about the number of family members involved in senior management and the board."

Some Reckson officials deny that the sale was cheap or that shareholders had to pay a price to shed Rechlers....