Cordish pushes forward with slots project, hosts job fair

Company learned Thursday that it could resume construction

February 25, 2011|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

Sundance Durango isn't concerned with lawsuits or appeals. He just wants the work.

At a job fair seeking workers to help build what could be the state's most lucrative slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall, Durango quickly listed selling points for the company he was there to represent. In its 50 years, the Ellicott City-based paving contractor has rolled out parking lots for car repair shops across the country.

"I want a contract," said Durango, a site manager at Sealcoat Contractors, which has also done parking lot work for Double-T Diners across the state. "My strategy isn't to go the lowest. I do a special service, and I want my price. It sells itself."

He was one of more than 220 business representatives hoping for work generated by the coming slots parlor. The visitors packed an Anne Arundel County hotel conference room Friday morning, seeking information on the fast-moving bidding processes.

The Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developer of a $1 billion slots parlor and entertainment complex planned for the mall parking lot, got the news Thursday night that it could resume construction of the project after two groups dropped their opposition.

Cordish hosted the already-planned information session along with two general contracting companies it hired to manage the process — Commercial Interiors and TN Ward Co.

The project's timeline calls for construction of a seven-story parking garage with a temporary casino on its first floor by the end of the year, and completion of the final project by late 2012. Bids for work on the project are due beginning early next month and stretching into July.

Cordish is seeking bids on everything from site excavation work, to elevators, structural steel work and the core and shell of the casino.

Company officials said they're working with Gov. Martin O'Malley's Office of Minority Affairs, with the goal of hiring 25 percent of the project's contractors and vendors from women- and minority-owned businesses. Cordish also says it wants 25 percent of the companies hired to be based in Anne Arundel.

Gary Shpritz, vice president of design and construction at Cordish, called the turnout at the information session "outstanding."

"We're working extremely hard to make our goals — and to exceed them," Shpritz said. "Next week we'll be back out there moving utilities."

With Thursday's withdrawal of complaints about traffic to a county appeal board, Cordish can resume construction at the site. Attorneys for a homeowners association near the mall, and for retail giant Costco, had each filed three appeals to the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals, with the most recent complaint causing the county to issue a stop-work order at the site.

The attorneys withdrew the complaints just as they were set to be heard by the panel Thursday evening, saying a traffic management plan approved by state and county officials adequately addressed the concerns about traffic in the area.

Cordish, which plans to build a 4,750-slot-machine parlor and entertainment complex on the parking lot of the mall, said the company was delayed by about a month but plans to begin forging ahead immediately. While the company can continue to ready the site for construction, it still needs a building permit from the county.

The job seekers received information on the bidding processes and were able to ask questions of the company representatives during the three-hour-long session at the BWI Marriott Hotel in Linthicum.

Small-business owner Karen Shannon came with a stack of glossy business cards and ideas about how her Baltimore-based event production company could have a hand in the success of the casino.

Lou Fields, president of the Black Dollar Exchange, which advocates for minority inclusion, said the event was important toward including minorities in the building of the casino — but he also wants to ensure minority-owned businesses – such as catering and transportation firms — have the opportunity to work with the casino owners to provide services after construction is completed.

Marty Glaze, vice president at Commercial Interiors, led the discussion and urged smaller businesses to enter into joint ventures and tier-contracting agreements.

"This is a big job," Glaze said. "But don't get scared that you haven't done a huge job and think you can't participate. We still want to hear from you."

Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon was among the attendees. Dixon said she's now working as a consultant for the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, and called the event "excellent."

"Contractors need to hear the details," Dixon said. "And it's a good way for companies to network with each other."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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