Cordish sues rival Struever over school at Port Discovery

He claims classes inhibit his Power Plant Live

January 17, 2003|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

David Cordish has filed a lawsuit against rival developer C. William Struever and his development firm in Baltimore Circuit Court, claiming Struever has pushed expansion of a small high school in the Port Discovery children's museum to harm Cordish's nearby Power Plant Live restaurant and entertainment complex.

Cordish would prefer to see Power Plant Live expand by leasing that museum space and is in talks with museum officials to block the school expansion.

Mayor Martin O'Malley suggested last year that the school and Power Plant Live could share the 80,000 square feet, with students entering on President Street and customers from the plaza.

"That conversation hasn't gone too far; I think this lawsuit probably kills it," said Mark Smolarz, chief operating officer of city schools. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, seeks damages of more than $55 million.

Struever, vice chairman of the city school board, called the lawsuit "sad" and said he would end his involvement in the search for a permanent site for the National Academy Foundation High School now housed in Port Discovery.

"I have no interest in a fight with Cordish," said Struever. "There's been no interest to do anything any way to harm Power Plant Live."

Cordish was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Last fall, the high school's first class - 90 ninth-graders - began using five classrooms at Port Discovery. The curriculum focuses on finance, tourism and technology. The school system leased the space for $75,000.

Last month, Baltimore lawyer Darcy Massof sued the City Council and O'Malley for letting the school use the property. Massof claimed the museum cannot sublease the property without formal city approval.

The museum pays the city $1 a year for use of the building under a long-term lease.

The Cordish suit alleges Struever knew the school would have a "detrimental effect" on the Power Plant Live complex because the two uses are "simply incompatible."

The suit contends Struever's firm is "attempting to develop other venues in East Baltimore that would benefit immensely from the demise of Power Plant Live."

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