Rouse Co.'s offer to sell Merriweather to Howard County stands, official says

August 24, 2004|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The Rouse Co. is proceeding with its Columbia development plans and offer to sell Merriweather Post Pavilion to Howard County, despite agreeing to be sold to a competitor last week, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Bob Rubenkonig said the Rouse Co. is operating with the attitude of "it's definitely business as usual" after consenting to be acquired by Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. for $7.2 billion in cash in a deal that was announced Friday and must be approved by Rouse shareholders.

"It's not like all of a sudden the Rouse Co. business comes to a stop," Rubenkonig said. "We continue on and continue with the plans. ... We continue with what we began."

Rouse has offered to sell Merriweather to Howard County and is moving toward commercially developing the 51-acre, crescent-shaped property behind Symphony Woods, which surrounds the 9-acre pavilion site and includes the venue's parking area.

The plans call for 800,000 square feet of office space and 400,000 square feet of retail space that could incorporate big-box stores.

The county is preparing to study the feasibility of buying the amphitheater - which was built in 1967 as one of Columbia's original amenities - and preserving it as a performing arts venue. The study is to be completed this year.

General Growth President John Bucksbaum said yesterday that it is too early to tell what will happen to Rouse's planned communities or to its Lake Kittamaqundi waterfront headquarters, which Rouse bought last year.

Rouse also has two significant county projects that are not completed. The 19-year-old Columbia Gateway corporate park includes 130 undeveloped acres. And mixed-use development is being built in the 570-acre Emerson community, which is expected to have more than 1,400 homes and more than 1.3 million square feet of commercial space when completed.

Sun staff writer Andrea K. Walker contributed to this article.

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