Friday, September 30, 2011

Repurposing The Rouse Building

The former Rouse Company headquarters building in Town Center is not likely to remain an office building. Repurposing the Gehry designed “elegant warehouse” for retail is the only scenario that really makes economic sense. At thirty seven years old, the white building is in need of a complete makeover. Since it ceased being a corporate headquarters in 2004, the building has been in a steady state of decline. The roof leaks, the HVAC system is on life support, and the most of buildings’ electrical systems are no longer in compliance with code. The 127,000 square foot corporate edifice was a high maintenance girl to begin with.

The point is that all this work is not optional. It needs to be done no matter what use is put inside. It’s also expensive. Very expensive, almost on the order of what it would cost to build a similar new building from scratch.

That means the rent needs to be higher than the current going rate for office space. That leaves retail or residential. The physical structure is more accommodating for retail than residential. It’s a building of large open spaces. The close proximity to a highly successful 1.2 million square foot super regional mall helps this argument too.

It would make an awesome retail store.

But what retailer would go there?

A big one, a national chain or regional chain, someone who can handle spending over a million bucks fitting out the space for their individual requirements, you know, to make it sexy. It could be a home furnishings store like a Crate & Barrel or even a discounter like Target.

Or maybe a grocery store, like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. After all, Town Center is the only village in Columbia that has never had a grocery store. The addition of over 500 new apartment units within walking distance could be very enticing to a specialty grocer.

It just might be far enough away from Wegmans to make that work. 
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