2005 Post 200

Rouse Co./ General Growth

Description: Rouse of Columbia was one of the nation's largest owners of malls and other retail properties. It also built residential communities. It was sold last year to General Growth Properties of Chicago.

Developments: Thirty-seven years after James W. Rouse cobbled together swaths of farmland to create Columbia, a grand experiment in planned community living, the company he started was sold last year to the nation's second-biggest owner of shopping malls.

Rouse Co. was purchased for $7.2 billion in cash by General Growth Properties of Chicago in a deal that closed Nov. 12. In the process, Columbia was stripped of its biggest corporate headquarters, and the Washington area lost one of its best-known corporate names.

For General Growth, Rouse's appeal was its portfolio of upscale, well-known shopping malls. General Growth now owns 215 regional malls. It expanded from 41 states to 44. But General Growth also acquired non-retail property, in businesses outside of its specialty. It obtained undeveloped land earmarked for sale in Columbia and planned communities in Las Vegas and Houston, as well as a portfolio of office buildings in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and Las Vegas. Many analysts expect the company to sell the office properties, though General Growth officials said last year that they are in no rush to do so.

As a condition of the merger, General Growth agreed to contribute a one-time $20 million payment to the Rouse Co. Foundation, which has supported many community activities in Columbia.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company