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Phillips opening at Power Plant this fall

Downtown Partnership President Kirby Fowler, left, David Cordish, Steve Phillips and state Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson.

Initial plans for a new Phillips Seafood Restaurant at the historic Power Plant building were approved Thursday by Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel.

The approval is the first step in a process to bring the restaurant, which is expected to open in the fall, to the former ESPN Zone site. To make changes to the exterior of the building, developers must get a permit through Baltimore’s Department of Planning. The Cordish Cos., Phillips Foods Inc., and architecture firm Design Collective Inc. need final approval from the review panel before receiving a permit, said Robert Quilter, UDARP coordinator.

The panel asked the developers to consider adding signs and canopies to the Pratt Street side of the building. Panel members also questioned if the proposed size of a Phillips sign on the west side of the building would be too large.

The Department of Planning will also need to look into sign limitations for the area’s urban renewal regulations in case the proposed sign is oversized, Quilter said.

The next UDARP meeting is Aug. 18, and the Phillips restaurant design will be on the agenda, he said.

Earlier Thursday, representatives from The Cordish Cos., Phillips Foods, the state and the city officially announced that Phillips would be moving to the Power Plant.

After 31 years as the flagship restaurant of the Harborplace Light Street Pavilion, Phillips announced in June it was closing its doors at the site. Cordish Cos. President David S. Cordish said at Thursday’s announcement that as soon as restaurant officials announced the closing, he asked Steve Phillips, CEO of Phillips, if the company was interested in signing as a tenant at Power Plant.

The Cordish Cos. had been looking for a new tenant after ESPN Zone closed a year ago. The company received more than a dozen offers for the spot, but Cordish declined to name the businesses.

“The minute [Phillips] became available, it was the easiest decision we ever had,” Cordish said. “We talked to some very attractive tenants, but not this special.”

Cordish and Phillips focused in their speeches on the partnership of the two fourth-generation, family-owned businesses as being a good fit for keeping the Inner Harbor’s tourism industry alive.

“[Phillips is] not going to cut and run, they’re going to be here,” Cordish said.

The interior will have two full bars, as well as space to host private parties. The inside space is about 15,000 square feet, Cordish said. There will also be an outdoor hard shell crab deck on a barge — “the old-fashioned Baltimore way,” said Cordish — directly in front of the restaurant.

The indoor space will seat more than 300 people.

Cordish said the lease will be for at least 15 years. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Cordish said renovating the complex for Phillips will cost “a lot.”

The new location will employ 300 people, said Christian S. Johansson, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Phillips Seafood has grown over the last 55 years from its beginnings in Ocean City to a seafood chain with restaurant locations in Ocean City; Atlantic City, N.J.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Rockville and Washington, D.C. The company also has eateries in airports in Georgia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Maryland.

General Growth Properties Inc., which owns and operates Harborplace, announced that Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. would replace Phillips next summer.