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Powerbroker Uberman dies; helped assemble land for NE Mall

Sid Uberman, a longtime Fort Worth real estate broker who handled many large land deals for regional shopping centers in Tarrant County and nationwide, died Sunday night. He was 87.

In two of his biggest deals, Uberman helped assemble land for Simon Property Group, one of the nation’s top shopping mall developers, for North East Mall in Hurst and Irving Mall. Uberman had a longtime professional relationship with Melvin Simon, chairman emeritus of Simon Property, which began nearly 50 years ago.

Simon said the two met when Uberman was representing Clark's department store. Later, in the mid-1990s, he and Simon, and a large developer in Mexico, formed a joint venture to build three regional shopping centers in Mexico City.

"He was the finest man I ever met," Simon said. "I found him to be the most upfront broker I ever met. He was from the old school: pure honesty. He was more than honest. He was a wonderful person."

Simon said he traveled to Fort Worth about a month ago after learning that Uberman was not well and visited with him for a short time.

Simon's son, David Simon, chairman and chief executive of Simon Property, recalled meeting Uberman for the first time when he was a teenager and they played golf.

"He had a bear of a handshake," David Simon said. "His handshake was as good as his word. Sid helped our company grow. He represented us in a number of transactions."

Uberman's son, Dale, and daughter, Jane Cordell, now operate his real estate company. Dale Uberman said about 95 percent of his business is with Simon Property Group.

In addition to the Simons, Uberman had close business and personal relationships with the Dillard family, and worked with retailers such as J.C. Penney and Nordstrom's, his son said.

A little more than two decades ago, when Penney's was looking for a new headquarters, they turned to Uberman to secretly plan the company's relocation to Plano from New York. That is still considered one of the top real estate deals to occur in the Metroplex.

In other locally significant deals, Uberman consulted with Burlington Northern in moving its headquarters to north Fort Worth, and brokered the sale of Ridgmar Mall to Shopco Group in 1995 and the Worthington Hotel to Marriott International in 1999.

Dale Uberman said his father "immensely" loved working in real estate. He was a very private man and liked to work behind the scenes, he said.

"Real estate was not only his passion, but his hobby his whole life," Uberman said.

Robert Ginsberg, a lawyer at McDonald Sanders, and longtime friend, said Uberman often did deals with handshakes and wrote them out on napkins, but was well-respected.

"Once they saw how determined, how persistent and trusting he was, the guys on the other side, he was often working for them next," Ginsberg said. "You wonder how he was able to close so many deals. It was because people trusted him."

Uberman was born in Cleburne on May 24, 1921. He graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1939. He attended the University of North Texas for a year before joining the Army. After the Army, he re-enrolled in college, but then started his real estate firm in 1946.

Uberman is survived by his wife of 60 years, Irene, son Dale, and his wife, Cindi; and daughters Joan Cordell and husband, Philip; Jan Grab and husband, Al, of Colleyville; and Jeanne Gibbs, and husband, Gary, of New Orleans; six granddaughters, four grandsons, and one great-granddaughter.

Funeral arrangements are pending.