Baltimore Odd Couple who built a billion Rose hates ties, while Greenebaum loves them

March 03, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Stewart J. Greenebaum and Sam Rose are to real estate development what Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were to television.

Mr. Greenebaum, always nattily dressed in a crisp suit and tie, plays golf, attends the theater, chairs the University of Maryland Medical System and devotes considerable time to charity. Mr. Rose hunts, fishes, collects art and raises bees, and boasts that he hasn't worn neckwear in more than 20 years.

Mr. Rose's expertise lies in building lucrative office towers in Washington, D.C., while Mr. Greenebaum develops land for communities such as Shipley's Choice in Anne Arundel County.

But as Greenebaum & Rose Associates Inc., the real estate equivalent of the Odd Couple has successfully blended their talents, and over the past 18 years has completed projects valued in excess of $1 billion.

"We've stayed together because we genuinely like and trust each other," said Mr. Greenebaum. "We put two and two together and got 44."

Said Mr. Rose: "We respect each other -- that's the key."

The story behind the partnership's latest accomplishment, an 11-story headquarters for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), is as striking as the differences between the two men.

That's because Greenebaum & Rose won the project after competing against some of the nation's development giants, Melvin Simon & Associates Inc., Hines Interests Ltd. Partnership, and Prudential Realty. Not bad for a Baltimore company with 12 employees.

The 890,000-square-foot office tower, completed in late December in Northeast Washington for more than $70 million, resulted from an agency decision to consolidate its four locations, including a Greenebaum & Rose property.

And FERC is expected to stay put for the next 20 years, thanks to a lease valued at roughly $300 million through 2016.

In many respects, the FERC building encompasses all the things for which Greenebaum & Rose stands. It is both functional and elegant. The elevators in the building come within seconds. A day-care center occupies a ground floor. Modern artwork adds splashes of color throughout.

"Sam's theory is 11-story atria with waterfalls don't fill buildings, they empty them. So we put in money where it should be put -- extra elevators, heating and air conditioning systems, parking," Mr. Greenebaum said, during a tour of the FERC Building. "We consider ourselves the J. C. Penney of office developers, delivering quality and value."

The FERC project also continues the firm's development of Union Center Plaza, a tract near Union Station that it bought for $4 million more than a decade ago. Today, the site contains two other 11-story office buildings, one of which serves as the Washington base for Ted Turner's Cable News Network, where talk show maven Larry King broadcasts his nationally televised show. Combined, the two buildings total 500,000 square feet and are valued at $66 million.

"Union Station is a marvelous thing," Mr. Rose said. "It's a transportation hub with a couple of hundred thousand square feet of restaurants and shops. It's like being in a neighborhood next to Harborplace."

It's no surprise that Mr. Greenebaum and Mr. Rose, both 59, found the real estate business from two different directions.

Mr. Rose began his career working for corporations like the Rouse Co. and American Trading & Production Corp. while attending law school at night.

Mr. Greenebaum, on the other hand, got into the business while working with his father, the former owner of the Young's men's store chain.

Mr. Greenebaum's first real estate deal involved rental housing, an investment he made with proceeds from wedding gifts. He would probably still be involved in it, were it not for an eviction of a family delinquent on rent from a property on Woodhaven Avenue. The first possession carried out the door was a crib.

"I determined I'd starve before I'd do that again," Mr. Greenebaum said. "I'm embarrassed I ever did it once."

Mr. Greenebaum then turned to developing land for mostly single-family housing that he would then sell to builders. While working on a small parcel for housing in Columbia he met Mr. Rose, who was working on another project nearby. Between them lay a 300-acre tract, now the Burleigh Manor community, that became the pair's first joint project.

Others followed, with names like Seminary Overlook, Stewart's Landing, Chestnut Hill Cove, Shipley's Choice.

It was while working on Shipley's Choice, a 550-acre project in Anne Arundel County that was being sold as part of a corporate liquidation, that Mr. Greenebaum got a call out of the blue from Richard Rainwater, then the primary representative for the billionaire Bass brothers of Texas.

Mr. Rainwater wanted to know whether Greenebaum & Rose would be interested in a joint venture. But when the two traveled to Fort Worth for a meeting, they realized Shipley's Choice didn't meet the Bass investment criteria for short-term yields, and turned them down.

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