LAS VEGAS -- Several national retailers have expressed strong interest in becoming tenants at the proposed Power Plant entertainment complex, a hopeful sign for the future $18 million redevelopment project in downtown Baltimore.
Although executives of Cordish Co. are not prepared to announce definitive agreements, they are in talks this week with potential tenants gathered at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.
"We are heavy into the leasing process, and the response has been almost overwhelming," said Blake L. Cordish, vice president of the Baltimore-based company that has earned a reputation for turning around failed projects across the country.
The 130,000-square-foot project has drawn interest from national retailers not only because of Cordish Co.'s successful track record, but also because of the downtown demographics -- a mix of office workers, residents and tourists, millions of whom come yearly to the nearby National Aquarium, Cordish said.
Among the companies being considered, Cordish executives said, are:
Sega Dreamworks, a virtual reality arcade.
Planet Hollywood restaurant.
Improv comedy club.
House of Blues, a jazz club restaurant.
Hard Rock Cafe.
Rain Forest Cafe.
Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores.
Baltimore officials have also been drawn into the project. In cooperation with the developer, Cordish executives said, the city is looking at plans for outdoor seating and entertainment at the complex.
In addition, the city is prepared to pay for a major extension of the promenade linking the World Trade Center to the Power Plant, according to the company.
The Power Plant, which decades ago was a steam-generating facility, was shuttered more than five years after two commercial failures.
The city has repeatedly failed to find a tenant capable of redeveloping the hulking, three-building complex.
In November, the city chose Cordish Co. over two other bidders to develop the facility into a tourist attraction.
The developer is working with architects to redesign the interior of the historic building, a renovation that they say will be jointly funded by the tenants.
What will emerge, company executives said, is a project distinctly different from the neighboring retail developments in the Inner Harbor -- Harborplace and the Gallery.
"The retail in the Gallery, you see at Towson Town Center," said Deborah Jerge, Cordish's director of leasing. "We'll have retail you don't [typically] see. There'll be a really up feeling."
The complex, expected to open next spring or summer, will house about three anchor tenants, each 15,000 to 25,000 square feet in size, and five or so smaller retailers of 3,000 to 8,000 square feet.
"We want to do what's best for Baltimore," Jerge said. "It's so strange, you talk to people who say, 'I don't come downtown,' and we want them to come downtown."
Pub Date: 5/10/96