Harbor's Power Plant model for Virginia project

Cordish Co. to spend $50 million on plan for Hampton complex

Commercial development

November 19, 1999|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

The Cordish Co. said yesterday that it will develop a $50 million retail and entertainment complex modeled after its Inner Harbor Power Plant project on a 107-acre tract in Hampton, Va.

The Baltimore-based company said it was drawn to the site because of its central location on Interstate 64, which links Virginia Beach and Williamsburg in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia.

"There are roughly 9 million visitors to Hampton Roads yearly," said Reed Cordish, vice president of development. "Most of the visitors travel to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach."

To travel from one of the cities to the other, he said, they "will be traveling right by our site," which will be called the Power Plant of Hampton Roads. The deal calls for Cordish to receive a $16 million subsidy from the city of Hampton, which will be spent to build roads, attract tenants and integrate architectural features to enhance the appearance of the complex.

Groundbreaking on the mostly vacant site will occur in the spring, with construction expected to be completed by the summer of 2001. The 550,000-square-foot project will include themed restaurants, entertainment and retail stores, including a Lowe's Home Improvement Center as an anchor.

"This `lifestyle-retail-entertainment' complex is expected to generate more than $6.4 million in annual tax revenue to the city, within the first year of operation," said Ben Williams, chairman of the Hampton Industrial Development Authority.

In addition, Cordish said, the city of Hampton will receive 10 percent of the project's cash flow after expenses.

The Hampton project marks the third time since August that a city planning a major redevelopment has hired Cordish.

Atlantic City, N.J., chose Cordish in August to design a master plan for a potential $200 million project linking the resort's gambling casino and boardwalk to its $254 million convention center.

Last month, Reno, Nev., chose Cordish to help revitalize a 32-block area dominated by casinos and hotels.

The Hampton Roads project will be the first in which Cordish attempts to use the Power Plant name.

"We're taking the theme of the Power Plant -- the industrial theme of exposed steel and brick and the name Power Plant -- and applying it to different places across the country," Cordish said.

He said the company would not try to duplicate the Power Plant in Baltimore, but to create a development that would have a feel of energy and excitement. "People love a sense of place and they love a project that creates a theme," Cordish said.

Saying that 140,000 cars pass by the site at the intersection of Interstate 64 and Hampton's Mercury Boulevard, Cordish expressed optimism that the Hampton project would succeed.

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