Fun/retail complex is proposed for The Brokerage City now seeking competing ideas for long-troubled property

Downtown

January 08, 1998|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF Staff writer Kevin L. McQuaid contributed to this article.

Like the Phoenix, The Brokerage may yet rise from the ashes of its troubled past.

The property, near the Inner Harbor at 34 Market Place, was a 1980s bust as an entertainment emporium, and the city has owned it since 1993. But an out-of-state developer has made an unsolicited proposal to redevelop the collection of buildings as a combination entertainment/retail complex, Baltimore Development Corp. President M. J. Brodie confirmed yesterday.

Now the city is seeking competing designs from developers who think the property will fare better this time around.

"We think this is a good time," Brodie said late yesterday. "We received an unsolicited proposal from an out-of-state developer and we're advertising now for a period of time" for alternative proposals. Brodie would not identify the developer and would speak only in the most general terms about what that company would like to do. The official said it would be impossible to put a price tag on the project because the property hasn't been appraised in several years.

The property includes the Bernstein Building, Bernstein Annex, Corner Building, Market Place buildings and interior mall.

It covers several acres and contains more than 250,000 square feet of space. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is a tenant, as is Bennigan's. Now that the property is effectively in play, proposals could include plans for the city-owned "air rights" above the Shot Tower Metro Station, Brodie said.

In the 1980s era of real estate speculation, the property failed as a retail and night-spot complex.

After a developer defaulted on bank loans, the bank took over the property. The city became owner after it bought the 276-car garage from Bank of America for $5 million. The bank threw in the rest of the property as part of the deal.

"Any project would be in the millions of dollars," Brodie said.

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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