Cleveland firm replaces Baltimore designers on casino project

Top: Design plans by Cleveland-based KA, Inc. for Baltimore Harrah's. Presented to city design panel Thursday. Bottom: Plans for same casino by Baltimore design firm Ayers Saint Gross presented in November 2011 to Maryland's casino location commission. (KA, Inc./Ayers Saint Gross)

The Baltimore design firm that helped ferry a Caesars-led proposal for a casino on Russell Street through the state approval process has been dropped from the project and replaced with an out-of-state company.

Ayers Saint Gross, headquartered in Locust Point, drew up the preliminary designs for the Harrah's casino that were used by Caesars as an enticement for the Maryland Video Lottery Facilities Location Commission to green light the construction of a casino near M&T Bank Stadium.

In November, the ASG drawings were presented to the commission at the vacant lot on Russell Street.

The commissioners saw renderings of a two-story casino fronted with red bricks, large glass walls and a skyway to a 4,000-space parking structure. The facade's extensive brick work was intended to evoke Baltimore's architectural history.

But at a meeting of the Baltimore Planning Department's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel on Thursday, Caesars presented site renderings that were prepared by another firm.

CBAC Gaming LLC, a majority of which is controlled by Caesars Entertainment Corp., replaced ASG with KA Inc., the Cleveland company that designed Caesars’ Horseshoe-brand casino there.

Still, UDARP panel members were shown plans that were quite like the ones ASG displayed to the location commissioners almost a year before.

KA's plans, like ASG's, include a red brick facade, two stories of glass and a skyway to a large parking garage (that was panned by the panel's design experts).

ASG and CBAC declined to comment on the change.

Have a real estate news tip or experience to share? Email me at steve.kilar@baltsun.com.