Rouse plans to build new mall in Fla.

May 13, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

The Rouse Co. of Columbia announced for the second time this week that it is planning development of a new shopping mall, this one in Orlando, Fla., and told shareholders at the company's annual meeting that its earnings prospects for 1994 are very strong.

The announcement of the 1.2-million-square-foot mall in Florida confirms a shift in Rouse's strategy.

Citing saturated retail markets, Rouse had indicated that it planned to grow mostly by buying malls from developers whose heavy debt loads forced them to sell.

But last year saw a wave of developers going public as real estate investment trusts and money from stock offerings let would-be sellers pay down their debts and hang on to properties Rouse had hoped to scavenge, Rouse Chairman Mathias J. DeVito said.

"We're a little disappointed we haven't been able to acquire some centers," Mr. DeVito said. He said Rouse still wants to look for acquisitions.

The company said Monday that it will build a 1-million-square-foot mall in Spartanburg, S.C. The South Carolina facility will open in 1996 and the Florida property in 1997. Rouse also announced plans yesterday to expand a mall in Colorado Springs, Colo., by adding a new Dillard's department store and renovating about a quarter of the existing space.

Rouse President Anthony W. Deering said analysts who follow the company expect it to earn about $78 million before depreciation and deferred taxes this year, up from $66.9 million in 1993. Both figures represent earnings after payment of preferred stock dividends.

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