Bubba Gump's an asset, not a liability to harbor

July 27, 1998|By David Cordish

IN LIGHT of the misinformation campaign being conducted by the National Aquarium regarding the proposed Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant barge at the Inner Harbor, it is necessary to set the record straight.

The Bubba Gump barge does not set a precedent for development on the harbor. Some 99 percent of the harbor is navigable water, and, by law, may not be developed. Conversely, the Bubba Gump barge is to be located in non-navigable waters, where it's perfectly legal to build structures.

The Bubba Gump barge was not approved in secret. The barge was authorized after a lengthy series of hearings that were open to the public. The time for objections has long passed and this debate sends a bad sign to companies such as Paramount Pictures, an owner of Bubba Gump, which wants to invest in the city. Despite our legal right to build, we have repeatedly expressed our willingness to compromise on the location of the Bubba Gump barge to accommodate the aquarium.

Bubba Gump will be a one-story floating barge that will be moored against the promenade in front of the Power Plant. Consequently, it may be moved to accommodate the pedestrian bridge that the aquarium plans to build, if the city deems that advisable.

Essential piers

From the beginning, our plans for the Power Plant included indoor and outdoor activities. The piers were to be essential ingredients to its successful conversion. This vision was understood and agreed to by the city and Inner Harbor-area stakeholders, including the aquarium. Aquarium officials were privy to our plans and they never voiced any objections until recently.

In fact, we changed the proposed location for the Bubba Gump barge at the request of the aquarium, which wanted the USS Taney moved behind the Power Plant -- the initial sight for Bubba Gump. Also, Bubba Gump will be located in front of the Chart House restaurant, not in front of the aquarium. It will have no visible dumpsters and garbage pick up will occur during the early morning hours.

Before the Cordish Co.'s involvement, the Power Plant sat vacant for a decade and was a barrier to the eastward expansion of the Inner Harbor. When we agreed to redevelop the project, we did not ask or accept any public subsidy. All we required was the affirmation of certain rights, one of which was the piers.

Gaining access to the water has allowed us to deliver on what we promised. The Power Plant has attracted the most sought after tenants in the world, including Disney Co.'s first ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe, Barnes & Noble bookstore and Bubba Gump.

These enterprises will create more than 1,500 construction jobs, 1,000 permanent jobs and more than $2 million in sales taxes.

Our company took an incredible risk and has a huge investment in the Power Plant. Maintaining the environment around the Power Plant as an open water experience is crucial to our continued success.

David Cordish is president of the Cordish Co., which is developing the Power Plant.

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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