The City Council approved last night a new development plan sought by owners of Pimlico Race Course, who plan to spend $400 million to expand the 140-acre site.
By a 16-1 vote, with two members absent, the council gave the Maryland Jockey Club clearance to pursue improvements to Pimlico that will allow it to accommodate the increased demand expected if slot machines arrive.
"It's a huge step," said Walter Lynch, project manager for Pimlico redevelopment.
Track owners want to build a new grandstand, larger track, theaters and banquet halls. They hope the site will become a weekend destination for concerts, conventions, horse racing and slot-machine gambling.
The proposal includes building structures to house slot machines if the state authorizes their use at racetracks.
Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said the development is important for the struggling neighborhood near Pimlico, which is part of her 5th District. She said the ordinance will be nullified if track owners fail to make the changes it outlines within four years.
Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. voted against the measure, saying there was not adequate time to study it since its introduction in October. Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young was out of chambers during the vote, and member Lois A. Garey did not attend the meeting.