Rouse lands Nordstrom for Columbia Announcement reportedly on way this morning

Rival stores enthusiastic

Upscale retailer 'would add significantly to the mall overall'

Commercial real estate

December 17, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The Rouse Co. will announce this morning that Nordstrom will become the fourth department store in The Mall in Columbia, knowledgeable sources said.

The anticipated announcement comes after years of attempting to lure the upscale, Seattle-based retail chain to the mall, which Rouse completed in 1971.

The other major department stores in the 876,000-square-foot mall are Hecht's, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and J. C. Penney & Co. Inc.

A Columbia store would become Nordstrom Inc.'s third in the Baltimore area, joining locations in Towson Town Center and the Annapolis Mall, which opened in 1992 and 1994, respectively.

Other major retailers in the mall reacted gladly to the idea of Nordstrom joining the tenant roster.

"If that's who it is, then it would be exciting news," said Warren Richards, manager of J. C. Penney's Columbia store. "Nordstrom is a great competitor, and they would add significantly to the mall overall. It would make the entire mall better."

Neither Rouse nor Nordstrom officials would comment on a scheduled announcement this morning, but people familiar with the situation said the announcement would be made today.

Although exact figures were not available, the Nordstrom store is expected to contain roughly 200,000 square feet and generate more than 350 full- and part-time jobs, based on averages from its other Rouse stores.

Getting Nordstrom, a 95-year-old chain with sales of more than $4 billion annually, is likely to be costly for Rouse, however.

Most Nordstrom stores cost in excess of $20 million to develop, ** costs borne mainly by mall owners such as Rouse.

In selecting Columbia, Nordstrom continues a trend of committing to Rouse projects. The Columbia-based real estate concern, which owns and operates 75 regional shopping malls in the United States and Canada, is constructing Nordstrom outlets in its Beachwood Place mall outside Cleveland and in its Perimeter Mall in Atlanta.

Nordstrom is also a tenant in Rouse malls in Salem, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.

Rouse has been wooing Nordstrom as part of a $300 million capital campaign to improve its mall properties, which account for a significant portion of its $4.7 billion in assets, amid a sour retail market.

Equitable Real Estate Investment Management Inc., an Atlanta-based commercial real estate analyst, contends in a forecast for 1997 that mall properties represent a poor investment proposition for the near future, because of competition from the Internet and an overall saturation of retail space. Rouse believes that, despite the slumping retail environment, dominant regional malls can survive and prosper with quality tenants, amenity packages and continuous improvements.

In addition to a fourth department store at Columbia, the May Department Stores Co. is in the process of expanding its Hecht's store there by adding a third floor.

While Rouse has been working to lure Nordstrom to Columbia for least three years, the developer also had been in talks with R. H. Macy & Co. and Lord & Taylor, sources said.

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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