The Rouse Co. has announced the third retirement of a senior executive in two months, an event that continues a two-year management evolution at the Columbia-based real estate concern.
Larry M. Wolf's retirement after 33 years with Rouse also marks the latest signal that Rouse perhaps is shifting its emphasis away from the retail and urban marketplace projects that brought it fame in the early 1980s.
"The shopping center business has changed quite a bit lately, and retailing has never been more competitive, at least in my 33 years in the business," said Mr. Wolf, 60. "And so I feel it's just an appropriate time to leave."
During Mr. Wolf's tenure, Rouse opened 23 retail centers and 26 urban marketplaces. But with the decline in retail spending and a general lack of consumer confidence, Rouse is taking steps to diversify away from the retail market.
Chief among those steps is the pursuit of an acquisition of the Howard Hughes Corp., a Las Vegas-based firm that specializes in large, planned communities and whose holdings include several top-tier office buildings.
As senior vice president and director of corporate merchandising and creative services, Mr. Wolf led Rouse's negotiating efforts with retailers and was instrumental in developing new concepts at some of the company's most prestigious projects, including Harborplace, South Street Seaport in New York and St. Louis' Union Station.
"All of us at the Rouse Co. have been blessed to have been in the company of one of the most unique and creative human beings we have known," Anthony W. Deering, Rouse's chief executive, said in a prepared statement.
Mr. Wolf's departure follows those of Bruce D. Alexander, a senior vice president and director of new business development, and Richard G. McCauley, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary. Both retired around the end of the year.
The three represent one-third of Rouse's senior vice presidents. None of the departures appears to have been unamicable, however. Mr. Wolf will remain a Rouse consultant through 1997.
"Larry has been very important to their organization, but with their depth, I expect a smooth transition," said Barry C. Curtis, an Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. real estate analyst who tracks Rouse. "But it doesn't occur to me that there will be any dramatic shift in their approach to merchandising, especially because he'll be affiliated with the company for the next two years."