Rouse shifts control of Columbia centers

New York company, part of joint venture, to have major stake

February 08, 2002|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

The Rouse Co. said yesterday that it has transferred majority ownership and operation of its Columbia community and village retail properties to a New York company that specializes in neighborhood shopping centers.

The move is part of the Columbia-based company's strategy to focus on its regional malls and community development projects, including Columbia and Summerlin, Nev.

Rouse said the centers would be transferred to a joint venture, K-R Columbia Properties LLC, with a majority stake held by an affiliate of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Kimco Realty Corp. The Kimco affiliate will take over day-to-day operation of the properties.

A Rouse affiliate would retain a minority stake. The Mall at Columbia was not included in the deal.

Financial details of the deal, which is expected to be completed in 30 to 60 days, were not disclosed.

Alton Scavo, senior vice president of Rouse and general manager of Columbia, said Rouse does not build or own these types of properties around the country and wanted to bring in a company that understood how to make them work. But, he said, Rouse officials could not bring themselves to sell the properties - which Rouse developed as Columbia grew over the past 35 years - outright.

"We still have some attachment to them," he said. "But we're not in that business. They're one-of-a-kinds for us."

Scavo said Kimco has relationships with retailers that gravitate to local centers. He said he believes most of the centers are in good shape, but that Kimco might be able to help one in particular, Oakland Mills, which has no grocery store.

Kimco is one of the largest publicly traded operators of community shopping centers. It has almost 500 properties in 41 states.

A spokesman for Kimco said the company is already in discussions with national supermarket chains to fill the grocery store space in Oakland Mills. Investments in the properties will be made as needed to attract other tenants, said the spokesman, Scott G. Onufrey.

The other properties in the venture include seven of Columbia's other village centers: Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, Long Reach, Hickory Ridge, Kings Contrivance, Dorsey Search and River Hill. It also includes Dobbin Center, Columbia Crossing and Gateway Retail.

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