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Godine Discusses His Past With Rouse, the Future With General Growth

By Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Douglas M. Godine started his career at the Rouse Co. nearly two decades ago, later struck out on his own and now finds himself back where he started at the Columbia headquarters of the old Rouse, which was purchased in 2004 by Chicago-based shopping mall developer General Growth Properties Inc.

More than a month ago, Godine was named vice president and general manager, overseeing Columbia's development and redevelopment.

Q What were your duties at Rouse in the early days?

A I started out with Rouse right out of college in 1961 in retail leasing. In the late '60s, I became vice president in charge of the leasing department. . . . In the early '70s, Rouse created five divisions, all reporting to the president of the company, and made me a division head. I had roughly 450 reporting to me. And we did all of the retail leasing in our shopping centers.

When and why did you leave?

I left in 1979 and started Godine & Stunda [in Baltimore] to develop shopping centers. . . . I always wanted to have my own development company.

What happened to your business?

It went great until the early '90s, when interest rates were 22 percent. Nobody was lending much money, and we overexpanded. We basically had to liquidate. We were small potatoes compared to Rouse. We had 25 employees. It was not that big of a company.

Was that hard on you?

About that time, I also had bladder cancer. I was very ill, and I wasn't sure I was going to be around. So that also was leading us to liquidate because I was trying to get my affairs in order. Thank God for Johns Hopkins hospital. I'm cancer-free.

Tell us about your family.

I've been married to the same woman for 45 years -- Ellen. I met her while I was in college at the University of Virginia. We had three children. One is deceased, our daughter [Brooke].

What happened to Brooke?

She died in 1998. She had a rare form of cancer that initiated in the center of the spinal cord and goes into your brain. She was 24 when she was diagnosed. She had three operations. We were operating to prolong her life, and she became a paraplegic because of the operations. She succumbed to the disease [at age 28]. Her spirit is with us every day.

How did you end up at General Growth?

I came back to Columbia specifically for General Growth. I knew the developments they had done, and when they bought the Rouse Co., that elevated them more in my mind. . . . I called up a friend I knew here and came out and interviewed. I was hired as development director responsible for 10 shopping centers.

What do you envision for Town Center?

Town Center really isn't a town center. . . . It just doesn't have the vibrancy and urbaneness it requires to be a true town center, and we have to create that. . . . Density is most important. It needs to be pedestrian friendly. How do you do that? We're not sure yet. We're working on that.

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