Hotel site up for grabs

Angelos loses sole rights to build at Camden Yards

Tourism

April 27, 2000|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Peter G. Angelos' plans to build an 850-room hotel on a city-owned parking lot next to Camden Yards were thrown into limbo this week, as the Orioles owner missed a city deadline for closing a deal with the Hyatt hotel chain.

After more than two years of extensions to Angelos' exclusive negotiating privileges over the 4-acre site, the city will ask other developers if they are interested in building a hotel there, city officials said.

"The door is open for other people to come forward if they want to develop a hotel on the site," said M. J. "Jay" Brodie, executive director of the Baltimore Development Corp. "The door is also open for Mr. Angelos to come forward with a different proposal for the site."

Representatives for Angelos and the Chicago-based Hyatt corporation said they remain optimistic that they will work out a deal to build a $150 million Grand Hyatt next to Camden Yards.

Building a hotel on the empty lot is seen as important to the success of the adjacent Baltimore Convention Center, which fails to land major events because organizations demand a hotel next to their meeting spaces, city officials say.

The Hyatt hotel is one of eight that has been proposed for downtown Baltimore in recent years. Two are under construction -- the 750-room Harborside Marriott and the 200-room Marriott Courtyard at Inner Harbor east -- and the others remain on the drawing boards.

During the next few days, Angelos plans to submit to the city a revised proposal that would include a purchase by Angelos of the 19-year-old, 487-room Hyatt Regency at 300 Light St., facing the Inner Harbor.

The proposal would allow Angelos to own both Hyatt hotels in Baltimore, with the Hyatt company managing both as a more than 1,200 room joint hotel venture. This would prevent competition between the two Hyatts and allow for greater efficiency in reservations systems and staffing, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

But, to make the deal work, Angelos has asked the city to renegotiate its profit-sharing agreement with the Hyatt Regency, which is on city property and gives the city between $2 million and $4 million of its profits a year.

Renegotiating this agreement makes the deal more complex from the city's perspective, because it means the city would get less money, according to city sources.

When Angelos brought up the idea with city officials, they replied that Angelos would have to submit a revised proposal if he wanted the city administration to consider it.

Angelos has also negotiated with the Westin hotel chain, but he is again focusing on Hyatt.

"In the next few days, we [Angelos and his partners] will be resubmitting our hotel proposal to the Baltimore Development Corp.," said Tom Marudas, an assistant to Angelos.

"After we submitted our original proposal, it was decided that the new Grand Hyatt and the existing Hyatt Regency be under one ownership and management, allowing the maximum benefit to the Convention Center with over 1,200 four-star-quality rooms," said Marudas.

Scott Miller, president of the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, said through a spokesman that he is hopeful his company will strike a deal with Angelos.

The only other developer who submitted a proposal for the site across from Camden Yards in November 1997 was New York developer Harvey Schulweis, who wanted to keep a parking lot on the property.

Schulweis said yesterday that he is not interested in building a hotel on the Camden Yards site, because he is planning to develop a 600-room hotel on what he considers a better site, at 300 E. Pratt St.

If Angelos fails to strike a deal with Hyatt and no other developers come forward for the Camden Yards site, the city will try to determine if it could be the developer of the hotel project, according to city officials.

Roger Lipitz, chairman of the board of the Baltimore Development Corp., said the board's decision last Thursday not to extend Angelos' exclusive negotiating privileges for the Camden Yards project does not mean the hotel deal is dead.

"We hope Peter [Angelos] will work out the issues that have kept him from making progress," Lipitz said. "If he comes back with a new proposal, with a [hotel company] lined up, we would be happy to review it.

"This property is available to [Angelos] or any other developer," Lipitz said. "We believe that building a hotel is very important for the Convention Center."

Peggy Daidakis, executive director of the Baltimore Convention Center, said more delays in the hotel project mean lost business for the center.

"It's disappointing to hear that there are continuous delays, because every time we have a delay, we miss out on opportunities," said Daidakis. "But the hotel is not dead."

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