Garage plan hits roadblock Delay: When the Columbus Center was placed in receivership in June, a developer's plan to build a high-rise parking facility next door had to be put on hold.

Urban Landscape

August 06, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

A KEY PARCEL on Baltimore's waterfront was about to become downtown's newest parking garage, until the $160 million Columbus Center marine research complex next door was placed in court-appointed receivership several weeks ago.

Baltimore Development Corp. President M. J. "Jay" Brodie said recently that the plan to build a garage on the north end of Pier 6 had to be put on hold after Columbus Center landed in the courts and under a lawyer's control.

Brodie explained that the court's action makes it difficult to develop land associated with the marine center because its creditors must be satisfied before new development may begin.

The six-level marine center on Piers 5 and 6 was placed in receivership June 30, after its directors defaulted on loans. Before a receiver was appointed, BDC, the quasi-public agency that oversees downtown development for the city, had been negotiating to award development rights for the property east of the Columbus Center to Cordish Co., the local firm that is building a $30 million entertainment center in the Pier 4 Power Plant.

In a letter dated May 5 -- less than a month after Cordish Co. proposed to take control of and redevelop the Pier 6 site -- Brodie notified company President David Cordish that the development corporation was "prepared to present to the city" for its approval a lease and land disposition agreement that would have allowed Cordish Co. to turn a parking lot on the east side of the now-insolvent research facility into a seven-level garage.

Besides being allowed to build parking space for 150 to 200 cars on Pier 6, Cordish would have had the right under the agreement to develop three "retail parcels" and an unspecified amount of office space as part of the project.

The garage would have been less than two blocks from the Power Plant, which contains a Hard Rock Cafe and the nation's first ESPN Zone, a sports- oriented attraction operated by ESPN and Walt Disney Co. A Barnes & Noble book and music store is expected to open soon in the Power Plant.

Cordish has been working to develop a garage near the Power Plant for more than a year. He had planned to build a garage on a state-owned lot at the northwest corner of Pratt Street and Market Place, but Baltimore City Community College terminated its negotiations with him last fall and chose to work with another developer.

Columbus Center was built to contain research labs for marine biotechnology and a public exhibition center where visitors could learn about research being conducted in the building.

But the exhibition center was forced to close in December after drawing 70,000 visitors during its first seven months of operation -- a quarter of the 280,000 projected.

Although the research activity has not stopped, the shortfall in visitors left the center an estimated $7.5 million in debt, with $2.5 million owed to NationsBank, $2.3 million to the city, $1 million to the University of Maryland and $1.2 million to vendors.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan appointed Howard A. Rubenstein, an attorney with Adelberg Rudow Dorf Hendler and Sameth LLC, to be the receiver who will decide the building's fate.

Cordish said he remains interested in building a garage on Pier 6, if the legal issues can be resolved. He noted that a garage east of Columbus Center would benefit not only tenants and patrons of the Power Plant but also other attractions in the Inner Harbor area.

Paintings of city landscape go on exhibit Aug. 17

Oil paintings of Baltimore's urban landscape by local artist Crystal Moll will go on exhibit at the City Cafe, 1001 Cathedral St., from Aug. 17 to Sept. 30. An opening reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m. Aug. 17.

University establishes preservation award

The University of Maryland's graduate program in historic preservation has established the St. Clair Wright Historic Preservation Award, honoring the founder of Historic Annapolis and "first lady" of preservation in the state capital, Anne St. Clair Wright.

The award is funded by contributions from friends and supporters of Wright, who died in 1993. It will be given annually at College Park to a student in the preservation program who exemplifies Wright's activist role. The first recipient is Jane Cox, a graduate student in American studies and historic preservation, and an archaeologist in Annapolis working on the Londontown "Lost Towns" project.

Pediatric hospital selects architect for center

Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital has selected Hord, Coplan, Macht LLC as the architectural firm for its $2.1 million Center for Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, scheduled to open on the hospital's Mount Washington campus in fall 1999. The 12,500-square-foot facility will offer comprehensive outpatient care for children with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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