BCCC project unveiled Proposed mixed-use building called boon to Inner Harbor

Commercial real estate

August 28, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The Philadelphia-based team chosen to develop one of the last vacant tracts along the Inner Harbor took steps toward beginning its planned $90 million project yesterday, unveiling tentative designs for a mixed-use building.

At the same time, the Kravco Co.-led team announced the selection of Miller Corporate Real Estate Services LLC, a local brokerage operation, to lease the 500 E. Pratt St. building.

"We see this project very much as having a dramatic impact on the Inner Harbor, and we've taken great pains in terms of the design of the building to address the multiple aspects of the harbor," said Wayne L. Snyder, Kravco's chairman.

The architectural plans and Miller's selection mark the first significant public steps Kravco has taken since the Baltimore City Community College picked its team to develop retail and office space, a 711-space parking garage and a 278-room hotel on a college-owned tract now operated as a surface parking lot.

The project, which is expected to go before the state's Board of Public Works for approval in October, is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2001.

With Miller, Kravco gains local expertise largely absent from the development team, which also includes a parking garage owner and operator, hotel developer and an architect, all from Philadelphia.

The only local equity partner in the team is A&R Development Corp., whose major office project is the 11-story City Crescent tower on Howard street, in which it is a limited partner.

"We were looking for people of substance, and we found them in the Miller firm," Snyder said. "Their style is realistic and basic, and we felt an instant chemistry."

Architectural plans for the Lockwood Place project -- as designed by Cope Linder Associates -- show the 10-story office component anchoring the southwest corner of the project. Plans include three floors of retail stretching down Pratt Street and curving toward Market Place, linking the harbor to the planned Children's Museum in the derelict Fishmarket. The hotel and garage will be constructed behind the retail, edging up against Lombard Street.

"We feel the project has a responsibility to reach out to other parts of the downtown community," said Gerald M. Cope, a senior partner in the design firm.

But in selecting Kravco -- whose only other urban retail project is under construction in Chicago -- the college sparked criticism for rejecting proposals for an office tower for law firm Piper & Marbury and a similar retail-oriented plan from the locally-based Cordish Co., developer of the Power Plant.

Critics say that the Kravco plan won't be able to generate the $1.1 million annually the college is seeking. They also fault it because the team has failed to produce tenants or signed leases.

Snyder said that one-third of the retail space will likely comprise restaurants similar to theme eateries like the Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and ESPN Zone. He added that the Walt Disney Co. has expressed interest in opening a Disney store, and plans include a mega-book and music store similar to Barnes & Noble, which is scheduled to open across the street in the Power Plant next month. Disney currently operates a store in the Gallery at Harborplace.

Milton H. Miller Jr., a Miller principal, said "significant negotiations" to lease office space are under way and that leases could be signed by the end of the year.

Pub Date: 8/28/98

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