Power Plant Plans Presented

September 16, 1995|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore developer David Cordish pitched a major entertainment complex and Maryland Public Television proposed high-tech exhibits and a TV studio at the deadline for submitting bids to develop the long-empty Power Plant.

Baltimore Development Corp., the quasi-government city agency charged with selecting a tenant for the cavernous brick complex, would not say if those proposals were the only ones received before the 5 p.m. deadline.

The BDC declined to comment or release the proposals, saying its leaders had yet to review them. But MPT and Mr. Cordish, whose Cordish Co. has earned a nationwide reputation for urban projects, provided details about their proposals.

The cavernous brick complex, which sits on prime Pier 4 real estate, has remained shuttered since 1990, when the $45 million Six Flags Corp. indoor amusement park there closed.

Mr. Cordish said he envisions transforming the 94-year-old Power Plant into an entertainment complex with restaurants, nightclubs and other attractions, similar to his $30 million Bayou Place project in Houston.

Mr. Cordish declined to put a price tag on his proposal last night, but said he has secured financing for the project and views it as a major tourist draw that would help fulfill long-standing needs for the downtown waterfront.

"What it does is it fills two twin objectives, which are family-type entertainment during the day and at night, adult entertainment," Mr. Cordish said. "We think it's a site with tremendous potential if approached in the right way."

David Nevins, chairman of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission, said he views the site as a major draw for different reasons.

He's pitching an MPT attraction inspired in part by the CNN Center in Atlanta, but on a smaller scale.

A TV studio with seating for audiences would provide an ideal venue for MPT programs, political debates and national shows such as "Oprah" or "Geraldo," he said.

Mr. Nevins stressed that MPT is not considering moving its entire Owings Mills headquarters to the Power Plant, which he said would serve primarily as a tourist attraction.

Unlike Cordish & Co., MPT would not fill the entire plant and is discussing sharing some of the space with developers or the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Mr. Nevins also said he wants to bring to the Power Plant a "video conferencing center," which would allow long-distance meetings between different groups; a "long-distance learning network" linking schoolchildren through interactive technology and a "cyber-world" exposition on high-tech communications.

Such exhibits would be featured outside the Power Plant on a Jumbotron, which also would tout other Inner Harbor attractions, he said.

"What was an electricity plant would now become an electronic power plant," Mr. Nevins said. "There would be a lot of things for people to see and do and learn about the television industry."

The MPT project would cost $3 million to $5 million, Mr. Nevins estimated, but he said financial details have yet to be worked out.

The new proposals are the latest from a series of would-be tenants to look at the Power Plant.

The city has reviewed more than two dozen proposals for the site in four separate rounds of bidding.

The city recently reopened bidding for the 106,200-square-foot Power Plant after financing fell through for a proposed $32 million sports-oriented theme park.

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