Prominently displayed throughout the Rappaport office in McLean is a phrase that not only perfectly encapsulates the Rappaport way, but has become our touchstone for the way we do business: Cultivating Places.
We believe that, viewed through the lens of Rappaport’s mission and values, “cultivating places” becomes a powerful mantra that both reflects and shapes our reputation in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. Therefore, when the company’s leaders came together to pin down and define a new mission statement for the company, the themes this tagline captures were top of mind.
Cultivating is rooted in agriculture. It conjures up images of a farmer, of a gardener tending to crop and plants, but cultivation starts before the growing. It is about preparation, about establishing the right conditions for future success. Cultivating is both prolonged and active; to prep a garden requires planning, is forward-looking, and inherently hopeful. You don’t prepare the soil for a flower you do not expect to bloom.
After preparation, smart cultivation also involves patiently nurturing green shoots, giving potential chance to take hold and to thrive, until it can stand and prosper on its own.
It’s the perfect metaphor, in our opinion, for the simultaneous development of people and communities that goes hand-in-hand with considered real estate and retail development. In the early stages of a new mixed-use development, such as Avec and Skyland Town Center, our teams work together to deliver on and uplift the new offering within the community. Once it gains traction with new retailers and neighborhood engagement, we start to see the fruits of our labor (pun intended) with a thriving submarket that we helped create and maintain.
The same can be said with more established centers: The development, property management, leasing, construction, accounting, and marketing teams work on constantly refining and improving the mix of tenants, on creating enhanced experiences through interactive features and beautiful art displays, and so much more.
At Dillingham Square, for example, Rappaport was asked to take the lead in developing ideas and designs for enhancing the property. Our renovations gave it a fresh new look, with all new facades, landscaping, signage, and LED lighting. These upgrades not only improved the pedestrian experience but has led to new tenants and improved retention of tenants.
Vienna Shopping Center is another great example of how we work to transform a property on behalf of owners. After 40 years in place, the lease of Vienna grocery store tenant Magruder’s was expiring, and Rappaport was given the opportunity to rejuvenate the development, making it better suited to the needs of contemporary shops and shoppers. We renovated and converted the grocer space to shop space, modernized storefronts, and improved the streetscape. With a revitalized center, the owners were thrilled to be able to attract popular retailers to the market, including Chopt, Taco Bamba, MOD Pizza, Innova, and CAVA Mezze.
The Village at Leesburg is a thriving example of the value-add we bring to the table. In 2013, The Carlyle Group brought us on to apply our specific blend of retail and office expertise. Our interventions included a multifaceted consumer marketing strategy, proactive property management services, and the facilitation of a $6 million renovation to common areas. This created impressive leasing momentum, and in 2018 Rappaport acquired majority ownership of the retail component therein.
Placemaking and Loyalty
Another term related to “cultivating places” is “placemaking”. This is both a design approach, and a philosophy. As a concept, placemaking acknowledges that the choices we make shape the experience of a place, as much as the bricks and mortar do. Those choices include the relationships that we foster and the way we conduct ourselves in business.
We believe that we can do good business while doing good, so we never take a knock-and-drop approach. In fact, that longevity in holding assets is a major distinction for Rappaport.
For Rappaport, however, we are in it for the long haul. A great example of this is Milford Mill Shopping Center. This was CEO Gary D. Rappaport’s first shopping center acquired in Baltimore, Maryland on May 31, 1984. Today, almost forty years on, this neighborhood center remains in our portfolio, along with many other retail destinations we have acquired along the way.
At Rappaport, we take a thoughtful and considered approach to placemaking, and we do so while upholding our values of full transparency and business decisions made with care, conviction, and integrity. It is a responsible and more meaningful way. Plus, there is more to return on investment than dollars, and more to costs than cash outflows if we get it wrong.
We Love Our D.C.
Finally, we at Rappaport love the D.C. market and its communities, and this feeds unswervingly into our mission. Above all else, our goal is not just “filling spaces” or “selling spaces”, but shaping retail that works for all stakeholders, from our trusted retail advisors to our tenants and landlord clients, as well as the sub-markets we are shaping, and the communities we serve.
If you look at our history and portfolio, our legacy of spaces represented in emerging markets – such as Capitol Riverfront, NoMA, H Street Corridor, and surrounding urban edge and suburban submarkets – we work diligently and caringly to bring what is needed and wanted by the people of this region, our friends, neighbors, and peers. We are cultivating places.
For more details about Rappaport’s strategy and what sets us apart, please click here.