Thursday, December 18, 2008

The End of an Era

In the latest move to shore up their balance sheet by selling assets, General Growth Properties has packaged up its downtown festival marketplaces for sale. Harborplace and Harborplace Gallery in Baltimore are being bundled up for sale along with Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston and South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.

It was these city marketplaces that led to Jim Rouse being featured on the cover of Time magazine back in August of 1981. Those were heady days at The Rouse Company when every major city mayor was calling on The Rouse Company to build a festival marketplace in their town.

Times change and the festival marketplace business isn’t what it once was. In truth, the downtown markets were never that profitable for the company to begin with. The operating costs were far higher for these non anchored urban retail centers than they were for traditional suburban retail centers. They held more of a public relations value than anything.

Today, Harborplace generates $114 million in annual retail sales in 285,000 square feet of retail space.


Anonymous said...

Apparently, Manhattan presented objections to GGP's plans for the Seaport, finding the massing, scale, and height of proposed drastic changes to be out-of-scale.

Lest you think all of the festival marketplaces are being cast off by GGP, there were also two other downtown festival marketplaces that were collaborations between the Rouse Company and the award-winning architect, Benjamin Thompson: Jacksonville's Jacksonville Landing (sold by Rouse in '03 to a Jacksonville local) and Miami's Bayside Marketplace (which GGP acquired and still owns).