James Rouse's Enterprise Development Co. and a local division of the Westinghouse Electric Corp. -- two economic powerhouses whose presence extends far beyond Maryland -- have been negotiating an arrangement that would enable them to work jointly on projects.
If an alliance is formed, it would enable both companies, each with its special expertise, to continue operating separately yet take advantage of the skills and resources of the other.
Founded in 1981, Enterprise is active in the development of festival marketplaces and mixed-use complexes, including Tempozan Marketplace in Osaka, Japan; Harbourside in Sydney, Australia; and Port Vell, a retail and entertainment project in Barcelona, Spain.
In the past 50 years, Westinghouse has grown into Maryland's largest manufacturing employer with more than 15,000 workers. Its Electronic Systems Group, long known as a defense contractor, has made an effort in recent years to expand into non-defense areas, including commercial manufacturing and real estate development.
One development project in which it has become involved is the mammoth Worldbridge Center, a $1 billion cultural, trade and investment complex with an Asian focus planned for Middle River in Baltimore County.
Mike Waller, a spokesman for Enterprise Development, said yesterday that he expected to be able to announce details of the joint venture later this week. Robert F. Barron Jr., Enterprise's president and chief operating officer, described the arrangement as an "informal business alliance" but said no final agreement has been reached. Westinghouse officials could not be reached.
Westinghouse and Enterprise have already been working together on one project -- the possible redevelopment of the Power Plant on Pier 4 at the Inner Harbor.
Westinghouse is the lead partner in a group that has been exploring plans since last fall to turn the onetime generating station into a "teleport," a high-tech telecommunications center that also would be a public attraction. City officials say that Enterprise's Martin Millspaugh, former head of the agency in charge of downtown development, has been a key part of the development team.
One reason that an alliance of the two parties would make sense is thatEnterprise, with a staff of 25, already works on many of its projects as joint ventures.
Known for its experience in developing shopping centers and other leisure-oriented projects, it often charges a fee for consulting with others and recommending the best way to develop a property. Profits are channeled to the Enterprise Foundation, which Mr. Rouse formed in 1981 to help build housing for the poor.
The Electronic Systems Group, on the other hand, has access to the vast financial resources of the Westinghouse Electric Corp. At Worldbridge Center, it has been working with a New York-based developer, Dean Gitter, to create a complex that could eventually include a trade center with offices and showrooms for an international array of companies, hotels, housing and leisure and recreation-oriented facilities.
Mr. Waller declined to say whether Enterprise might become involved with Worldbridge Center as a result of any pending agreement with Westinghouse. He said specifics of the arrangement originally were to be announced yesterday but will most likely be announced Friday.
Westinghouse has already made a series of acquisitions designed to help it move into or expand its penetration in new markets. In December, it acquired Schlage Electronics, a company based in Santa Clara, Calif., that is a worldwide supplier of electronic access-control units.
Westinghouse also entered the home security market less than a year ago and quickly became the fourth-largest company in the industry, behind Brink's Inc., ADT Inc. and Network Systems Inc.