Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Rouse Co. Ready to Unload the Landing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Rouse Co. Ready to Unload the Landing

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Basch, Times-Union business writer

The Rouse Co. last week reached a record high as the real estate development company reported strong second-quarter earnings and said future prospects are bright. But The Jacksonville Landing is not likely to be a part of that future.

In a conference call with analysts to discuss earnings last week, Rouse Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Deering confirmed that the Columbia, Md.-based company is trying to sell the downtown Jacksonville shopping and entertainment center.

"I would suspect over the next year it will be gone," he said.

Rouse grades the Landing as a "C" property while, according to its annual report, 90 percent of its retail centers are graded as "A" or "B." And Deering said the company does not want to hold on to "C" properties for the long term.

"I think we announced in the past we will continue to try to reduce that component of our portfolio," he said.

Deering also said he doesn't expect to fetch a high price for the Landing.

"It's not going to be a lot of money. It doesn't produce a lot of cash," he said.

A Rouse spokesman did not return phone calls last week seeking further comment.

Rouse indicated a decline in the value of the Landing in the fourth quarter of 2002 when it took a $37.9 million charge related to an "impairment provision" for the Landing and another retail center in New Jersey. The company did not specifically say how much of that provision was for the Landing. But Rouse's 2002 annual report lists the carrying value of the Landing at $13.3 million, down $20.4 million from the $33.7 million value listed in its 2001 annual report.

Aside from the Landing, things are looking good for Rouse. The company reported funds from operations of $1.05 in the quarter, 12 cents above the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. The stock reached a record high of $40.31 on Thursday.

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