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Yes...Mall amenities are a big deal. The Columbia Mall and its surroundings ring many bells. The mall was located directly across the street from our Rouse corporate offices in Columbia and often a luncheon favourite. I was directly involved in 1981 doing the expansion of a new wing that included a new food court and Sears with about 40 smaller retail stores on two levels. Looking back Columbia Mall still reminds of Rouse's Franklin Park in Toledo and then of Oxford Valley with its unmistakable ceiling space framing or superstructure signature.
Amenities? Indeed I remember the "Poinsettia Tree" a Christmas delight bar none. It was invented by Roy Brown, our head of landscaping at Rouse. Roy and his sidekick Vern enjoyed a special role in the company as Jim Rouse personally would get involved in most of the mall landscaping designs and especially the interiors. Jim actually approved for Roy to purchase and establish a Florida tree farm to grow and harvesting "Ficus Nitida" trees and those being Jim's favorite. By the time I left Rouse to open Copley Place in Boston we at Rouse must have had over 800+ Ficus Nitida trees in our malls nationwide.
The "Poinsettia Tree" was used in many of our better malls and in more affluent and upscale markets. Like in Cleveland at Beachwood or Santa Monica Place. The big deal was that the bottom round steel structure (25+ feet round) holding the Poinsettia pots had to be custom made and included a copper pipe connection for each subsequent above rung and for each mounted pot to be singularly and automatically watered. A large tree could hold up to 400+ plus pots tightly massed to give the feeling of one contiguous flow of Poinsettias.
General Managers would order a bolted and welded together Poinsettia Tree structure directly from Roy who also had a national pricing availability for the Poinsettia's themselves. Such a Poinsettia Tree amenity at that time (with stand) was costing about $20,000 "all-in" and for the plants to last for the entire Holiday Season. The Poinsettia steel structure could be used over and over again or sold to another Rouse mall if so desired. Roy himself would come out to the mall to approve its exact location and to be sure that the installer was on the ball. We will most likely never see those days again. But hoping though that Columbia Mall will maintain the Poinsettia tradition and splurge.
I somehow missed seeing this until right now and didn't see anything until your comment on my other Clearview post. I'm actually from the Reisterstown/Owings Mills area originally and grew up going to Owings Mills, so I got to see a lot of 80s Rouse up close and personal. I visited family in the Butler area and would stop into that mall too. Rouse malls will always be my favorite.
@Avery - TheNeonExplorer
Thanks for your kind note.Yes indeed I loved living in Baltimore. I remember moving from Youngstown working at DeBartolo to Rouse in Columbia, MD. For me that was a very big deal because it was like moving up to civilization so to speak. Not that I disliked small town America, but the design vocabulary and the beauty of the existing Rouse Company malls (compared to DeBartolo's Security Square) and then Baltimore itself spoke to my heart. Of course for me a promotion and money was better as well. The weather was better too. What's there not to like? I was working in Development & Operations on a Rouse corporate level and for Baltimore alone I did the openings for Harbor Place, White Marsh and one of the major Columbia Mall expansions. This is when the world was new!
As to Owing Mills which I thought was one of our better designed and prettier newer malls, (a more high-end retail statement) and with its opening in July 1986 the mall was 95% leased, a great start we all thought. But as you know problems abounded and far too many to recite them here and now. But you know the story. Yes you are absolutely right the Rouse Company malls had charisma as I would call it. Our Columbia teams called our malls having 'Gingerbread.' Warm colors, fully grown and mature ficus trees, skylights , fountains and festive lighting. Mall floors like pavers on the city streets never any cold looking poured terrazzo floors. No mall developer at the time even came close. Nor had the good taste! Or wanting to be making this type of quality design commitment (or expense) to themselves and to the public.
I spent 50-years working exclusively in the mall industry and my 'take-away' from you today is that I as well...feel that Rouse malls will always be my favorite. Very much like "Cowboys will always be my hero's."