It seemed like a nice fit on paper. In addition to more room for the association’s offices and board room, they would conceivably take over the operation of the
too. A Spear Center fitness facility was even envisioned
for the ground floor. Town Center
CA had other ideas. They’ve decided that it is time to be owners of their own
offices instead of
continuing as renters. The problem is that there are few if any good opportunities
to own or build in Town
Center . Most of the prime
land for development in the core is owned by either General Growth Properties or
Howard Hughes and neither of them is selling. In fact, Howard Hughes could conceivably
be considered a buyer if the right opportunity presented itself, perhaps the
same opportunity that CA is looking for. Town
As CA headed off in a different direction, Howard Hughes moved on. They still liked the idea of a fitness club in the lakefront building. It would serve the residents of the 800 plus new housing units they are developing around the Mall. If CA wasn’t interested, perhaps LA Fitness, Lifetime or some other national chain could be convinced to come there.
Is that a missed opportunity for CA?
At least one current CA board member seems to think so. In this post today on HoCo Rising, Tom Coale suggests that
is on the “precipice of big change” centered around this development opportunity.
“If Howard Hughes finds a financially beneficial long-term agreement with Bally's, Lifetime Fitness, or Gold's Gym, the Columbia Association is in serious trouble. That's not intended to simplify this $60 million organization into a gym membership, but CA holds a privileged position in
mostly unencumbered by any significant competition. This allows for
programs like the low-income discount and capital improvements that are not
predicted to turn a positive return. I often wonder how much the dynamic
would change if we lost that privileged position.”
I can understand CA wanting to own their headquarters. At the same time, the availability of this iconic
Columbia building at the same time the
association is in the market is incredibly fortuitous and an opportunity that
should not be so easily dismissed.
It would be good for Howard Hughes too. If the Columbia Association is up to challenge it could be a powerful marketing angle in luring prospective residents and businesses to
As far as I know, it may already be too late. I hope not.