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Design for city casino approved by panel

Despite advice that the building would be upgraded from a brick to limestone façade if voters approve adding table games to the state’s slots parlors on Nov. 6, the city’s design review panel OK’d a preliminary design for a Baltimore casino Thursday.

harrah's casino baltimore

A rendering of the proposed casino as viewed from the corner of Russell and Bayard streets.

The Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel met for more than two hours at City Hall as representatives of casino licensee CBAC Gaming LLC outlined a revamped design for the gaming parlor, to be located on the outskirts of downtown near M&T Bank Stadium.

With two of the three members present, the UDARP voted to approve with comment the designs presented.

“More study is needed,” said Gary Bowden of the main entrance to the casino, to be located off of Warner Street.
Bowden also questioned the placement of two three-story tall video marquis boards on the hulking 4,000-space parking garage to be located behind the casino. The signs will face Interstate 95, and Bowden said therefore distract drivers.

“The messaging can be a major distraction to drivers going 65 miles per hour,” he told Chuck Jones, an architect with the CBAC Gaming LLC, a division of Caesars Entertainment Corp.

The referendum that will be placed before state voters early next month was also discussed — if it passes, the casino building would upgrade from red brick to limestone because of the cachet of table games, Jones told the panel.

As presented Thursday, the new design would include a glass and brick façade with an illuminated glass cubic entranceway along Russell Street. Last month, Jones presented a design that showed a curved glass entrance, but after criticism from the panel, he and his group redrew the plans to include the cubic exterior and two outdoor porches that would face Russell Street for smokers.

The main entrance to the casino will be on Warner Street, which runs parallel to Russell Street. There, two separate bricked patio areas would greet gamblers and visitors, one for vehicle drop-offs and valet parking, and one for pedestrians. An entertainment pavilion would also be included in the entranceway, Jones said.

Ground is expected to be broken for the 260,000-square-foot casino in mid-2013 and be completed a year later, Jones said.
UDARP is expected to meet again next month to consider further designs for the casino and parking garage, said member Mark Cameron.