On May 31, 1984– forty years ago today– Gary Rappaport, alongside 14 partners, closed on the Milford Mill Shopping Center purchase in Baltimore County.  The $1.5 million deal, to which each investor contributed $35,000, marked Rappaport’s first shopping center acquisition and the start of a business with a portfolio today totaling over 14 million square feet of retail space within more than 76 shopping centers and ground-floor retail in some 115 mixed-use properties.

What began as a small cubicle in a one-man office has since grown to a full-service retail company with a team of over 100 passionate and hardworking professionals, all united by the mission to cultivate places that enhance the lives of everyone who calls the D.C. Metro home.  

Let’s look back on the events and deals that have earned Rappaport a reputation as one of the most well-known and respected retail real estate firms in the Washington, D.C. region. 

In 1986, Rappaport acquired the 39,009-square-foot H Street Connection. The property was later redeveloped in 2016, becoming Avec, a modern mixed-use development hosting a blend of residential units and retail spaces.

In 1996, Rappaport acquired Mount Airy Shopping Center, a value-add property in Mount Airy, Maryland with 14 acres of developable land. The property was repositioned to expand Safeway, create a Walmart location, and increase the retail space by approximately 44,000 square feet.

In 2002, Gary was elected chairman of ICSC, illustrating his leadership in real estate and monumental contributions to the industry.  He continues to lend his valuable insight and experience to meetings of the Board of Trustees.

In 2005, Rappaport expanded its offerings by adding brokerage services This strategic move allowed the company to offer a more comprehensive suite of real estate solutions, further solidifying its position as a trusted advisor.

In 2006, Rappaport acquired remaining interest in the East Coast’s largest retail power center, Fredericksburg’s Central Park, and assumed management of the Property Owners’ Association, which includes 2.5 million square feet of retail and office space.

Beyond being impressive investments, Rappaport properties are vital hubs for our local communities. Rappaport’s property highlights include the 310,000-square-foot Skyland Town Center, the 1.2 million-square-foot lifestyle center Village at Leesburg, the 177,000-square-foot Bristow Center, and the 185,000-square-foot Hilltop Plaza.  

Gary Rappaport’s reputation as an industry thought leader has been further cemented by his book, Investing in Retail Properties: A Guide to Structuring Partnerships for Sharing Capital Appreciation and Cash Flow. After ICSC published the first two editions in 2010 and 2016, Forbes Books published his third and most comprehensive edition in 2023. 

Though Rappaport’s success has required ingenuity, perseverance, time, skills, and investment capital, good business requires good businessmen, and to be a good businessman, one must first– absolutely first– be a good person.  At Rappaport, we always strive to be honest, fair, and trustworthy– never compromising our standards for short-term benefits. Leading by example, Rappaport has emerged not only as a trusted voice in retail, but as the standard for honesty and uncompromising ethics in business.  

Here’s to 40 years of cultivating places!

Author Camille Seldin

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