Baltimore consulting firm tapped for Grand Central renovation

April 08, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore firm of Williams Jackson Ewing has landed part of a $6.7 million contract to consult on the renovation of Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, the 81-year-old Beaux Arts landmark that serves 500,000 commuters daily.

Williams Jackson Ewing will again be teamed up with LaSalle Partners of Chicago, reuniting two firms that collaborated on the well-received transformation of Washington's Union Station into a retailing and entertainment center as well as a train station. They also worked together to develop the Towson Commons mixed-use project in Baltimore County.

"We want the terminal to be a first-rate space in New York City," said Richard Eaddy, director of real estate development for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We want it to be a place where our commuters will feel comfortable stopping for a drink or maybe dinner on the way home."

The plan calls for Williams Jackson Ewing to spend 3 1/2 yearsdirecting the planning, merchandising and leasing of 155,000 square feet of retail space at the terminal. LaSalle will be responsible for overall direction of the $100 million renovation of the station. Payment of the full $6.7 million is contingent on meeting revenue targets, Mr. Eaddy said.

"It's going to be different than Union Station in that it will be highly specialized stores attuned to one of the greatest retail markets in the world," said Michael Ewing, a Williams Jackson Ewing partner. "You're not going to see The Limited. It's not going to be a mall. You'll see New York specialty stores," designed to appeal to commuters, nearby residents and people who work in the neighborhood.

Jon Bortz, a LaSalle executive and Pikesville native who will oversee the project, said the project is likely to have fewer entertainment outlets than Union Station, which has a nine-screen movie theater, in part because Grand Central draws far more passengers than Union Station and has less need to draw customers from a wide geographic area.

"Other people will come because we'll provide regular merchandise," he said. "But the principal purpose is to restore the station.

Mr. Eaddy said the project will be completed by 1997. The renovation of Grand Central is especially important to the cause of historic preservation, he said, because the Penn Central Railroad's plan to build a skyscraper around and above the building led to a 1978 Supreme Court decision recognizing government authority to restrict development in the name of historic preservation.

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