When tide's in, or out, food rises to occasion

Floating restaurants: Another Cordish barge bobs toward reality

July 20, 2000|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Order a life preserver with your hors d'oeuvres. A flotilla of floating restaurants is growing around the Inner Harbor.

Developer David S. Cordish is proposing to build a 30-foot-tall restaurant barge to the east of his Power Plant entertainment complex on Pier Four.

This would be in addition to the dining platform that Cordish is building for the ESPN Zone restaurant in the water to the east of the Power Plant, and a similar outdoor eating area he built in front of the adjacent Hard Rock Cafe.

Beside the Harbor Inn Pier Five hotel nearby, a two-story floating banquet hall called the Pintail Lady will soon open.

Cordish said this week that he is negotiating with a Caribbean-style restaurant chain to lure it to his proposed barge, which would be anchored on Pratt Street near Market Place.

The Cordish Co. is trying to revitalize Market Place, which features the struggling Port Discovery children's museum, by building a complex of nightclubs and restaurants across from the museum in 34 Market Place.

"This [Caribbean] restaurant would be a fantastic tenant and would be a great addition to Market Place," Cordish said. "It would really be the anchor that Port Discovery needs, and it would help ex- tend the Inner Harbor's crowds into this area."

Cordish said he has not signed a lease with the restaurant chain, and so announcing its name would be premature. He also needs approval from the city to build the barge.

Two years ago, Cordish ignited a dispute with the neighboring National Aquarium in Baltimore when he proposed to build a barge with a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant to the west of the Power Plant.

The aquarium objected because the Bubba Gump boat - with its large, grinning shrimp sign - would have been too close and would have taken up an area where the aquarium planned to build a bridge.

Allowing the Cordish Co. to build a restaurant barge on the east side of the Power Plant was part of a peace plan reached last May by Cordish and aquarium Director David M. Pittenger. The Bubba Gump chain stopped being the Cordish Co.'s top choice for the area.

The aquarium does not object to the plans to build a floating restaurant on the far side of the Power Plant complex, said Jill Galloway, spokeswoman for the National Aquarium. "This is better for us, because the restaurant is no longer in a site where we had proposed to build a bridge," said Galloway. "The new location does not present any problem."

The aquarium in June completed its $900,000 wood and steel suspension bridge, which leads from Pier 3 to Pier 4 and connects the aquarium to its Marine Mammal Pavilion.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates waterways, granted permits to allow Cordish to build wood and steel dining platforms in the water in front of both the ESPN Zone restaurant in the Power Plant and the Hard Rock Cafe. The ESPN platform is under construction.

But the Corps of Engineers has not yet received an application from Cordish to build the barge on the other side of the Power Plant, said Doug Garman, spokesman for the federal agency. The agency's approval would be necessary for the project, Garman said.

The Pintail Lady, a 145-person yacht that this week will dock beside the Harbor Inn Pier 5 Hotel, is different from Cordish's waterfront dining areas.

The Pintail Lady will offer dining cruises for weddings and receptions around the harbor and to Washington and Philadelphia. Cordish's platforms will remain stationary.

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