A bronze statue of James W. Rouse- the one stuck in a storage closet in a Columbia office building for months - will be coming out of the gloom.
The slightly larger-than-life statue of Columbia's founder and one depicting his brother have been sold to the Columbia Association, the statues' former owners announced yesterday.
"They're picking them up any day, and they're not sure where they're going to put them or what they're going to do with them yet," said Chuck Breitenother, vice president of CB Richard Ellis, who negotiated with the Columbia Association.
Acting Association President Chick Rhodehamel said officials bought the statues for $10,000. He plans to give Columbia residents some say in where the pair will go, but it will "absolutely" be a public place, Rhodehamel said.
The months-long, out-of-the-way home for the statues - a result of vandalism, owners said - had frustrated some fans of the late Rouse.
An Easton native who became a nationally known developer, Rouse founded Columbia in 1966 as a "New Town" - a place where everyone was welcome and everything they needed was in the area.
His statue was erected in 1986 outside the Symphony Woods office center, located near the heart of town and owned at the time by Rouse & Associates. Next to it stood a statue of the late Willard G. Rouse, his brother and executive vice president of the Rouse Co.
The statues were commissioned by Rouse & Associates. Together, the pieces - which were secured in the ground rather than on pedestals - cost about $70,000 andhave changed hands several times, as the building has gone through different owners.
CB Richard Ellis manages and leases the building for the current owner, PMRealty Advisors.
Breitenother said the statues were moved into storage about 19 months ago after an apparent vandalism attempt. Sculptor William Duffy, who helped move the statues inside, said they are otherwise in "perfect shape."
Columbia Association bought them both Friday, Breitenother said."It's unfortunate that they can't stay with the building, but, in the end, it's going to be neat to have them in a place that has a lot of foot traffic," he said.
Among those who agree is Dennis Lane, a real estate broker with Ryan Commercial in Hanover who once worked for the Rouse Co. He prodded the owners and Columbia officials for months to place the statues back outdoors.
He's overjoyed to hear that it's finally happening.
"It's about time they came out of the closet and back into the public domain," said Lane, a longtime Columbia resident.
But Breitenother suspects that the bronze pair might not see daylight right away, as their new owner works out the logistics of showcasing them.
"They'll probably go into storage for a little while," he said, laughing.