By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun
7:22 PM EDT, April 13, 2012
The Cordish Cos., known for pairing urban-style entertainment districts with sports venues, will work with the San Francisco Giants to build a $1.6 billion waterfront development near the club's ballpark and is planning three more sports-anchored projects in Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., and St. Louis.
The Baltimore-based developer of Power Plant Live at the Inner Harbor and the Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall is seeing a burst of activity in sports-themed mixed-use development. One of its biggest such projects opened last month in Philadelphia.
Cordish and a partner, Comcast Spectacor, opened the $60 million Xfinity Live entertainment complex on the former site of the Spectrum at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. It features restaurants, a beer hall and an outdoor concert stage.
For the San Francisco project, a Cordish/Giants partnership was selected by city and port officials to redevelop 27 acres of publicly owned land across a channel from AT&T Park.
The team unveiled its vision this month for what it calls Mission Rock — 3.5 million square feet of offices, housing, shops and parkland. San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee has said the project could become one of the nation's biggest urban mixed-use projects.
In St. Louis, Cordish hopes to start construction this fall on Ballpark Village, a project long planned with the St. Louis Cardinals next to Busch Stadium, said Blake Cordish, a Cordish vice president, on Friday.
And two other sports-arena projects are in the early planning stages, Cordish said. In one, the company is under contract with the city of Las Vegas to build an 18,000-seat arena, which could host NBA and NHL teams, surrounded by an entertainment district. And in Portland, Cordish has a deal with the NBA Trail Blazers to redevelop an area surrounding the basketball team's arena.
In such projects, the developments and adjacent stadiums or arenas feed off each other, Cordish said. The sports generate traffic and demand for the retail tenants, while the entertainment districts attract and enhance the experience for fans.
Partnerships with team or facility owners work because "we have a strategic partner that has a tremendous investment in and long-term commitment to the neighborhood," Cordish said. "That's true of the Giants, and it's true in Philadelphia with Comcast Spectacor and with the St. Louis Cardinals."
Mission Rock in San Francisco is expected to "enhance and diversify the economic position of the team, creating new revenue streams that will help us compete at the highest level," Larry Baer, the Giants' president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Cordish's Philadelphia project had been planned since 2008 and under construction since early last year, starting with the demolition of the Spectrum, an indoor arena that had been home to the NBA's 76ers and the NHL's Flyers.
Built in the midst of Philadelphia's baseball and football stadiums and the Wells Fargo Arena, Xfinity Live opened last month with a preview night for ticket holders of the sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert at the arena.
It includes dining spots such as the Philly MarketPlace, Spectrum Grill, Broad Street Bullies Pub, NBC Sports Arena, PBR Bar & Grill and Victory Beer Hall. In the project's second phase, Cordish and Comcast-Spectator, which owns the Wells Fargo Center, plan to build a hotel.
In a statement Friday, Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, said the Xfinity project has exceeded expectations.
"In just a few short weeks since its opening, Xfinity Live has solidified itself as the living room of South Philadelphia and a true destination," Snider said.
This fall, Cordish hopes to start construction on the St. Louis Ballpark Village project, beginning with an initial, $95 million phase. It will include more than 100,000 square feet of restaurants, bars and entertainment tenants, such as Cardinal Nation, a three-level restaurant with a local baseball theme that will have views of the ballpark. The development also will feature a concert stage and public events plaza.
Because of the recession, the St. Louis project has undergone some changes and is moving forward without a previously planned office anchor.
But Cordish has been able to follow its plans on most of the sports-related projects even as it develops new partnerships. While it is known locally for the Power Plant retail and office complex at the Inner Harbor, projects outside the city now make up about 90 percent of its work, Cordish said.
"We're fortunate as a company that we're in terrific financial standing, and stronger now than we were before the recession," he said. "We get a lot of phone calls from team owners or companies looking for us to partner with them on development."
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