The contest between two area development firms vying to see which would win the right to build a multimillion-dollar marine research center in the Inner Harbor has come to a biblical conclusion.
After weeks in which it seemed only an act of Solomon would end the deliberations over whether the Rouse Co. or the smaller Manekin Corp. would win the lucrative contract, the nine members of the Christopher Columbus Development Inc. voted last night to pick Rouse.
The selection means the Rouse will take over development and ultimately management of the $164 million Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration.
The center is expected to be completed by 1994 on an 11.4-acre site on northern portions of Pier 5 and Pier 6.
Stan Heuisler, chairman of the non-profit board that has steered the center's development until now, said the choice of Rouse came down to putting a new twist on an old story.
Heuisler said that during the deliberations Bernard Manekin, chairman of the Manekin Corp., likened his company to the biblical young David fighting against Goliath -- in this case, the giant Rouse Co. of Columbia.
"I don't want to use Bernie's words against him, but he characterized it as a David vs. Goliath situation," Heuisler said. "And we, the board, now realize that this is a Goliath project."
Heuisler said Manekin's presentation was "first class" but the board couldn't overlook the size of the Rouse Co. and its previous experience developing multiuse waterfront projects throughout the country.
Besides Harborplace and the Gallery downtown, Rouse is responsible for Faneuil Hall in Boston, South Street Seaport in New York City and Bayside in Miami.
Heuisler said the Christopher Columbus board will turn its attention to negotiating a contract with Rouse.
Douglas A. McGregor, Rouse executive vice president for development, called the Christopher Columbus project "exciting and challenging."