Pushing The Boundaries
Cousins ended the turbulent 1970s having learned a critical lesson: During a downturn, developers are often at the mercy of others, from space users to banks. Heading into the 1980s, Cousins took a more conservative approach to development, securing prudent financing and pre-leasing projects to mitigate the risks of development.
During the late ’70s, Cousins continued to see success in the regional mall business and hit 10 million square feet developed by 1980. New projects, led by Haywood Mall in Greenville, South Carolina and Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened well leased and with much fanfare. But sensing a shift in the market, in 1982, the Company sold much of its retail portfolio to focus on Class A office development. Over the course of the next decade, Cousins’ office fortunes increasingly relied on an important relationship with the country’s best known technology company, IBM. Wildwood Office Park, situated adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest in suburban Atlanta, became the focal point of Cousins’ office activities. Starting with a small office building for its own headquarters, the Company next won a contest to develop a training center for IBM at Wildwood. Impressed with the setting and the developer, IBM formed a partnership with Cousins to develop a series of office buildings, all at least half-leased by IBM, to house its rapidly growing Atlanta presence.