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A rendering showing what a proposed arena and pedestrian bridge would look like from Rash Field. (Courtesy Cordish Cos.)
A rendering showing what a proposed arena and pedestrian bridge would look like from Rash Field. (Courtesy Cordish Cos.)

Cordish plan a lot more than just an arena

Cordish Cos. concept for a new development near Harbor East at the Pier 5 and Pier 6 is much more than just a proposal for a new arena.

The $450 million concept involves not only a 15,000-seat arena, but a new outdoor amphitheater, a pedestrian bridge connecting the area to the other side of the Inner Harbor and what the company is calling “a major water feature.”  Cordish Cos. plan to partner with the Paterakis family, who have been the prime movers behind the development of Harbor East, on the project.

“We love our hometown and we see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an iconic waterfront arena that would be a game changing project for the City.  Few cities have the opportunity to add landmark venues so it is critical that we maximize these developments,” Blake Cordish, Cordish Cos. vice president, said in a statement emailed to reporters on Friday morning.

Cordish acknowledges  that the project will require some public funding. But he said the subsidies would be limited to incremental new revenues and that because of the project’s location it will allow the developer to maximize arena revenues through such avenues as naming rights and sponsorship that will “minimize the need for public assistance in comparison to lessor profile locations.”

The company intends to pair Adam Gross, of Ayers Saint Gross, and a “world renowned architect” to design “an architectural icon on the waterfront.”

The proposal is likely to set off a lively debate among different development factions over which portion of the city should be the target for development. Some supporters of the traditional downtown are opposed to more development dollars going toward Harbor East and believe that a new arena should remain close to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

There would also be hurdles to building the arena near Harbor East because the only mass transit currently serving that area is the financially challenged Charm City Circulator and Maryland Transit Administration buses. Traffic along President Street near the proposed arena site is among some of the most congested in the city. Meanwhile, the current arena is accessible through a variety of mass transit options including Metro and light rail lines.

“We don’t have much to say about the Cordish arena proposal beyond that it’s the latest in a series of ideas floated by developers. At this point, it’s little more than that – an idea,” Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, wrote in an email earlier this week..

Baltimore Development Corp. President William Cole also backed that description of the proposal. He said Cordish Cos. made a more in-depth presentation to the Greater Baltimore Committee’s board, but that he personally has seen a very preliminary concept.

“I think at this point it’s considered a concept … there’s a lot of steps that it would have to go through before I would consider it to be a full blown proposal. It’s a concept — an arena concept,” Cole said.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.

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