Power Plant may get neighbor

Developer might add retail, office space on Chart House site

January 08, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Developer David Cordish has been so successful leasing space in Baltimore's Power Plant that he is exploring the construction of an addition south of it on Pier 4, replacing the Chart House restaurant building.

Cordish, head of the Cordish Co., has been discussing expansion of the Power Plant with the city, which owns the section of Pier 4 occupied by the Chart House, an outdoor terrace and a smaller building south of it.

The proposed building, which might be physically linked to the Power Plant, would contain space for a new Chart House restaurant and a major retailer new to the Baltimore area.

It would contain upper-level office space for an unspecified company that is pondering whether to stay in the city or move to the suburbs, Cordish said.

"The city has asked us to try and retain for Baltimore a major tenant who is out of space" and is considering moving out of the city, Cordish said. "We'll be working closely with the city to try to accomplish that."

Cordish did not identify the prospective office tenant or the retailer. He said the retailer is a company that could be an "anchor type of establishment" for the Inner Harbor. He also is excited about Chart House's ideas "in the way of Maryland and seafood-oriented fare."

M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of Baltimore Development Corp., which oversees downtown development, said the city is involved in the discussions because the Chart House is a city tenant and changes to the restaurant's lease require city approval.

Brodie said he did not have details about the size, cost, height or construction timetable of a building because it is in the early stages of design. Cordish did not provide details.

Brodie said Cordish representatives have asked several architects to propose designs for the building and that he expects preliminary plans to be presented to Baltimore's Design Advisory Panel in the next month or so.

Size, appearance undecided

Important issues for city planners, Brodie said, will be determining how large a building could be constructed on the Chart House property, how much weight the pier can support, and how a new building might be connected to the Power Plant, if at all.

"Those are key questions -- how many levels, what will it look like?" Brodie said.

The Power Plant consists of three buildings constructed around the turn of the century as a power generating station and later acquired by the city. The city chose the Cordish Co. to turn them into a $30 million entertainment, retail and office center.

Initial tenants include a Hard Rock Cafe, an ESPN Zone restaurant, and a Barnes & Noble book and music store. Others to come include Arthur Andersen's regional office, a Gold's Gym and the Cordish Co. headquarters.

The Chart House was one of the first restaurants to open around the Inner Harbor when it refurbished a warehouse in the late 1970s. The 36-year-old chain has 60 branches and is publicly traded. Chicago developer Sam Zell is one of its principal investors.

Restaurant to continue

Al Lucas, director of operations for Chart House, confirmed that the restaurant has been exploring options with the Cordish Co. For now, he said, it will remain open in its current building.

"We like what they've done on the pier," he said. "One thing is for sure, there will be a Chart House on that property. It may not be in [the current] brick building, but we'll be part of that location."

Since beginning renovation of the Power Plant, Cordish has been selected to develop the Brokerage at 34 Market Place and as part of a team that will operate the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion. Cordish also has announced plans to put a floating Bubba Gump Seafood Co. restaurant in the inlet between piers 3 and 4.

Brodie said the idea of a Power Plant expansion grew out of conversations he had with Cordish after walking around Pier 4 about a year ago.

"This thought wouldn't have come to us if the Power Plant hadn't been doing as well as it has," Brodie said yesterday. "It's a unique opportunity."

Pub Date: 1/08/99

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