Consultants are sought for Cloisters project BALTIMORE CITY

January 22, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

The board formed to create a new home for the Cloisters children's museum near the Inner Harbor is searching for consultants to recommend the best way to carry out the project.

The museum board has set Feb. 1 as the deadline for marketing and design experts and others to submit their qualifications to conduct a three-month study of The Brokerage at the Inner Harbor, where the museum is to be located.

According to museum Director Beatrice Taylor, the board's goal is to determine how to recycle portions of the retail space inside the Brokerage, at 34 Market Place, to create a "first-rate museum and children's center" by early 1995.

City officials last month agreed to buy a 276-car garage at The Brokerage from the Bank of America for $5 million by Jan. 31. The bank has agreed to donate the retail and office portions of the 280,000-square-foot complex as part of the transaction.

Spread over three acres, the Brokerage includes a freestanding building in the middle of Market Place and a square block full of interconnected structures, bounded by Market Place, Frederick, Baltimore and Water streets. Part of the two-level retail space is occupied by restaurants and cafes, such as Ruth's Chris Steak House and Fat Tuesday, but significant portions are vacant.

The city owns the Cloisters Museum property at 10440 Falls Road in Baltimore County and is in the process of turning its operation over to a private group.

Officials say that after the city obtains control of The Brokerage they hope to build a 50,000-square-foot children's museum that is more diverse than the Falls Road attraction. The Cloisters Museum will cease to operate once the new museum opens, and future plans for the property are under study.

Dr. Taylor said the museum board wants the consultant to recommend the best location within The Brokerage for the children's museum and the best configuration for it. The board also needs the consultant to help plan exhibits, develop cost estimates, and devise a financial strategy for building and operating the museum. The seven-member building committee is co-chaired by Dr. Taylor and Janet Marie Smith, vice president of stadium planning and development for the Baltimore Orioles. Dr. Taylor said that committee members hope to select the consultant by early March and have the study finished by mid-June.

The Abell Foundation has promised a $300,000 grant for the new museum provided that it is located at The Brokerage. The site is also being studied as a possible new location for the Eubie Blake Cultural Center, now at 409 N. Charles St.

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