JAMES ROUSE Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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James Wilson Rouse (April 26, 1914 - April 9, 1996) was a pioneering American                 
real estate developer, civic activist, and later, free enterprise-based                       
He was born in Easton, Maryland. He attended college and law school during the               
Great Depression; after graduating in 1937 he worked for the Federal Housing                 
Administration and in 1939 he was a partner at a mortgage banking firm called                 
the "Moss-Rouse Company", which would eventually become the Rouse Company.                   
After World War II he became involved in Baltimore, Maryland's efforts to                     
rehabilitate its slums. This led to his participation in Dwight D. Eisenhower's               
National Housing Task Force starting in 1953. He introduced (or at least helped               
popularize) the term "urban renewal" to describe the series of recommendations               
made by that task force.                                                                     
In 1958, Rouse built Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie, Maryland, the first enclosed             
shopping center east of the Mississippi River. His company coined the term "mall"             
to describe the development, which was an alternative to the more typical strip               
malls usually built in the suburbs. Although in retrospect, many attribute the               
rise of the shopping mall as a major contributor to the decline of the city                   
downtown core, Rouse's focus at the time was on the introduction of malls as a               
form of town center for the suburbs.                                                         
In the 1960s Rouse turned his focus on planned communities. The first was the                 
Village of Cross Keys. On June 16, 1961, Rouse bought 68 acres inside the city               
of Baltimore from the Baltimore Country Club—at $25,000 an acre. Rouse excitedly           
proclaimed that the new development will be the largest, and potentially most                 
important development in the history of Baltimore. According to Paul Marx in                 
Jim Rouse: Capitalist/Idealist, Rouse hoped he could bring to the residential                 
field some of the fresh thinking, good taste and high standards which we                     
believe have marked our shopping center developments.                                         
Familiar with bad housing in Baltimore and Washington, Rouse now had an                       
opportunity to demonstrate what housing within a city's borders could be like. There         
is a real need for residential development, he said, in which there is a                     
strong sense of community; a need to feed into the city some of the atmosphere               
and pace of the small town and village; a need to create a community which can               
meet as many as possible of the needs of the people who live there; which can                 
bring these people into natural contact with one another; which can produce out               
of these relationships a spirit and feeling of neighborliness and a rich sense               
of belonging to a community. In a city that practiced strict racial segregation,             
Rouse intended Cross Keys to be open to all African Americans who could afford               
to live there. Rouse's first planned community was a careful mixture of                       
townhouses, garden apartments, a mid-rise apartment house, stores in the village             
square, and an office complex. By 1970, the Village of Cross Keys had become                 
among the most desirable places to live in the Baltimore area. While Cross Keys               
was under construction, Rouse decided to build a whole new city. The creation of             
Columbia, between Baltimore and Washington, was the greatest adventure of Jim                 
Rouse's life. Columbia was the ultimate opportunity: the chance to embody his                 
ideals in a whole new city.                                                                   
Paul Marx tells the story of how this huge project came to be financed. Rouse                 
turned to his partner in previous projects, the Connecticut General Life                     
Insurance Company. At a meeting at company headquarters in Hartford. Rouse made               
his pitch to CG's top real estate and mortgage people and the company's chairman             
of the board, Frazar B. Wilde. The questioning was mostly negative, until Mr.                 
Wilde joined in. He expressed the view that CG couldn't lose. The land that                   
would be invested in not only would retain its value but would be worth more                 
with every passing year. For if Rouse's project didn't pan out, the land could               
always be sold for a better price than what it cost.                                         
The plan that was arrived at was for the land for the new city to be owned by a               
subsidiary called Howard Research and Development Corporation. CG would own half             
of that corporation and Rouse's Community Research and Development the other                 
half. CRD would be responsible for the management of the acquired land and for               
preparing a master plan for development. CG also put up some of the money for                 
Columbia's infrastructure. The rest was supplied by Teachers Insurance and                   
Annuity Association and the Chase Manhattan Bank.                                             
By the end of the summer of 1963 close to 14,000 acres (57 km) Of Howard County             
farmland had been acquired, and the time was at hand to begin planning what to               
do with it. Rouse wanted to hear from a wide assortment of experts and scholars.             
He brought together the Work Group, consisting of top people in health, family               
life, education, recreation, government, transportation, and employment.                     
Ultimately emerging was the idea that the new city should be a real multi-faceted             
city, not a bedroom suburb. It should be possible for its residents to find                   
everything they needed right there jobs, education, recreation, health care, and             
any other necessity.                                                                         
What would be the component parts of this city? How should it be divided? What               
was the ideal size for the core component that would provide most of the                     
essentials for the optimal growth of human beings? According to Paul Marx, Rouse             
was not reluctant to bring up his home town of Easton as the kind of place that               
provided the best nourishment of the human spirit. Consensus formed around the               
idea that the basic subdivision within the new city should be the village, a                 
unit of from 10,000-15,000 people. This number was thought to be the most likely             
to foster a local feeling of identification: for merchants to get to know their               
customers, ministers their memberships, and teachers their pupils and parents.               
Within the city, there would be 12 villages, each to be like Rouse's Easton.                 
Each village would be a central place where people of different income levels                 
and types of housing would cross paths and mix. Each village would have most of               
the services and resources usually found in an American small town. It would                 
have a middle school and a high school, a teen center, a supermarket, a library,             
a hospital, an auditorium, offices, restaurants, some specialty shops, and a few             
larger recreational facilities. It also would have a multi-denominational house               
of worship. The hope was that one building would be used by several                           
religions. Marx says that Rouse wanted to defuse competition among different                 
religions and sects, reducing if not eliminating totally, the pursuit of                     
prestigious land, buildings, and the monetary wherewithal.                                   
In addition to the villages there would be The Town Center. This would be the                 
new city's downtown. In it would be the central office of the city's governing               
body, the Columbia Association. Here would be the main cluster of retail stores               
(as part of the inevitable mall), a hotel and conference center, a hospital,                 
movie theaters and a concert hall, a community college, and branches of the                   
Maryland Institute of Art and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.                             
The main entertainment area was to be known as Tivoli, after the entertainment               
area in Copenhagen. Early on Rouse said that he hoped Tivoli would be a place where,         
under the benign influence of having fun and relaxing in familiar ways, people               
would have opportunities, especially attractively and conveniently presented,                 
for discovering new ways to enjoy their free time new foods, new visual and                   
tactile aesthetic experiences, even new social relations. According to Marx,                 
Rouse's vision for downtown Columbia grew ever-more grandiose. Rouse wanted The               
Town Center in Columbia to provide the most comprehensive range of recreational               
activities and services that had ever been contemplated in a new town center.                 
Rouse again and again reminded his staff that Columbia would be “at the center             
of a population of 4.5 million people growing to 6 million; that we are near by               
one of the greatest tourist attractions in the United Statesmthe nation's                     
capital By 2008, however, Downtown Columbia had not yet become a regular stop                 
for tourists, as Rouse had hoped it would. A curious few come but not hordes.                 
Statues of James W. Rouse (right) and his brother, Willard, in Columbia,                     
Maryland by artist William F. Duffy. Willard RouseIII, Willard's son (James's                 
nephew), was another notable real estate developer. Photo taken by Jeff Kubina.               
Starting in the mid-1970s and continuing into the 1980s he shifted focus to what             
he ended up calling the "festival marketplace"; of which the Faneuil Hall                     
Marketplace was the first and most successful example. Completed in 1976, the                 
Faneuil Hall Marketplace ( comprising Quincy Market and other spaces adjacent to             
Boston's Faneuil Hall) was designed by architect Benjamin C. Thompson, and was a             
financial success, an act of historic preservation, and an anchor for urban                   
revitalization. However, at its inception, it was considered a highly risky                   
venture, and many critics felt it was doomed to fail. Rouse's innovative                     
business vision looked obvious in retrospect, but it was a bold contrarian move               
with few friends at the outset.                                                               
Other examples of Rouse Company developments include South Street Seaport in New             
York City, Market East in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Harborplace in Baltimore,               
Maryland, Waterside in Norfolk, Virginia, St. Louis Union Station in St. Louis,               
Missouri, Downtown Portland's Pioneer Place , and the Riverwalk of New                       
Orleans. This focus led TIME magazine to call him "the man who made cities fun               
After forty years at the Rouse Company, he retired in 1979. Soon afterwards, he               
and his wife founded the Enterprise Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation                   
funded in part by a for-profit subsidiary, The Enterprise Community Partners,                 
Inc., and focused on seeding partnerships with community developers that address             
the need for affordable housing and associated social services for poor                       
Through his daughter Robin, he is the grandfather of actor Edward Norton.                     
The Rouse Theatre in Wilde Lake High School is named after James. In May 2006,               
an approximately four-mile stretch of Maryland Route 175 between Interstate 95               
and U.S. Route 29 in Columbia, Maryland, was named after Rouse and his wife,                 
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.