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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Rosemary McAndrews: The woman behind Stanford Shopping Center

A historian who understands economics and finance

A longtime member and past president of the Stanford Historical Society, Rosemary McAndrews was named one of the university's "most unforgettable personalities of the past 25 years" in a poll of the society's members held last year.

According to the society's current president, Bob Hamrdla, "Rosemary is eminently sensible. She is a straight talker who says what she means and I have a lot of respect for her viewpoint. She has been a splendid contributor to the society, bringing to its board a valuable understanding of economics and finance -- not something historians are generally known for!"

Aside from the historical society, Rosemary has lent her talents and expertise to a number of other academic, government and arts organizations.

She was also a member of the Avenidas board for six years, retiring in 2000. "We agonized for some time over the change of name from the Senior Coordinating Council to Avenidas," she said. "We wanted to drop the slightly pejorative 'senior,' and finally decided on the word for avenue, which also translates to a way or path."

Palo Alto is fortunate to have Avenidas, she said. "It is not only one of the best of its kind in the country, but quite possibly the only one to offer such a complete range of services for seniors. Most senior organizations do only a part of what Avenidas does so splendidly."

But it is the Stanford Shopping Center that bears Rosemary's most indelible imprint. A 24-year career with Stanford University and the Stanford Management Company led to her becoming Stanford's landlord for all its leased properties and culminated in 1985, when she was named director of the popular and upscale Stanford Shopping Center.

"I wanted the center to be different," she said. "I tried to have some smaller tenants in there to give it a local flavor and set it apart from all the other regional centers. When these stores were successful it was wonderful, but when they weren't it was very painful." The 63 small independents of the McAndrews era have since dwindled to five.

An avid traveler with her late husband, John, Rosemary returned from vacations with ideas that enhanced the center's shopping experience. A trip to Nairobi resulted in the store Tribal Arts, which flourished for several years. A European trip inspired the street market concept that revitalized much of the center.

"Rosemary developed the center's vision and personality," said Bill Phillips, a managing director of real estate for the Stanford Management Company. "Where the street market is now used to be a real dead part of the center. Now it is the most popular access point. She turned the center into one that is not only unique among malls but one of the three top-performers in the U.S."

In her early days at the university, Rosemary served her apprenticeship with two men whom Phillips refers to as "giants of the industry" and Rosemary agrees were "absolutely wonderful people" -- Alf Brandin and Boyd Smith. She also credits Phillips as being "the best kind of boss -- one who trusted me and let me alone but was always there when I needed help." As much as she may have learned from them all, Phillips said, "We always felt we learned just as much from her."

Rosemary has one daughter, Lisa, a Stanford graduate who teaches at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos and runs a landscape architecture business with her husband in Soquel. They have three teenage children.

-- Hillary Hannon


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