Local man became shopping center pioneer

Marshalltown native Matthew Bucksbaum, 87, a real estate magnate and renown developer who learned business skills at the family’s local grocery store years ago, was laid to rest in the Jewish Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines Tuesday.

He died Sunday of respiratory failure.

From his modest beginnings in Marshalltown where he grew up and attended school, Matthew Bucksbaum and brothers Martin and Maurice, would go on to create General Growth Properties initially in Des Moines before moving operations to Chicago.

The company is the second-biggest U.S. owner of shopping malls, according to Bloomberg Reports.

GGP was the original owner of Marshall Town Center (then Marshalltown Plaza Shopping Center) which opened to much fanfare Aug. 2, 1972.

Present were Mayor Carroll Paul, Don Porteus, shopping center manager and a Marshalltown native, Bill Pepper, Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce president and Jennifer Owen of Maxwell, the reigning Miss Iowa.

Joining them were the Marshalltown Eye-Openers Drum & Bugle Corps and a Dixieland band.

Of the 45 stores who had leased space in the shopping center, 28 were ready for business and others would open later.

GGP is the owner and operator of Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines and previously developed Southridge Mall in Des Moines.

The real estate development company was founded by the three brothers in 1954. The Bucksbaums were among a handful of families who are recognized as pioneers of the shopping center industry. Matthew became a member of the board of the International Council of Shopping Centers in 1986, and was named the organization’s worldwide chairman in 1992. Generally soft-spoken and thoughtful, he lived by the principal ” My good name is the most precious thing I have” and was known for his integrity.

In 1954, the brothers, then Cedar Rapids residents, built the local Town and Country Center, the first shopping center in Iowa and one of the first in the midwest.

In 1960 they opened Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf – Iowa’s second shopping center.

Before his retirement as CEO in 1999, and as Chairman in 2006, the publicly held company was one of the largest owners and developers of shopping centers in the world, numbering over 200 malls and 200 million square feet of space.