The owners of the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore plan to develop a 4,000-seat concert venue in the proposed entertainment district between the casino and M&T Bank Stadium and bring a variety of musical acts and other entertainers to Baltimore.
The Paramount Baltimore would be built on the site of a dilapidated brick warehouse at 1300 Warner St. along what is a gritty and largely empty corridor, a block away from where officials announced plans last year for a proposed high-tech driving range called Topgolf.
The $50 million venue would bring another performance space to the city that is close in size to the MECU Pavilion on Pier 6 in the Inner Harbor but far smaller than Royal Farms Arena on the west side of downtown and larger than others in the city.
“Topgolf and the newly proposed concert venue will be great compliments to the entertainment corridor along Warner St.," said City Councilman Eric Costello. "This area will provide state of the art entertainment amenities to our residents and serve as another regional attraction in Baltimore City.”
Caves Valley Partners, which helped develop the casino and co-owns the new site, has been working since 2016 with the owners of the Paramount Theater, a concert hall in Huntington, New York, to open a Paramount venue in Baltimore. The New York venue can seat just under 1,600 and opened in 2011. It has since hosted artists including Billy Joel, Ed Sheeran and Lauryn Hill. It also booked Chippendales dancers and stand-up comedian Jim Breuer.
Paramount officials said in 2016 that they would likely fill the Baltimore venue’s schedule with similar acts, representing such genres as classic rock, pop-rock, jazz, metal and hip-hop. It could also host non-music events like boxing and comedy acts.
The companies unveiled plans for the new performance venue Thursday when the developer and architects presented preliminary designs to a city panel.
“The Paramount will create the ultimate concert experience for the public and the entertainers,” the development team said in a statement.
Arthur Adler, who is leading the development team at Caves Valley, declined to comment about the project. A spokesman for the Paramount did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
Caves Valley and Caesars Entertainment Corp. have spent millions to buy property in recent years around the casino, and the group has rights to city-owned land now used for Ravens stadium parking and the BARCS animal shelter, which is moving to Cherry Hill.
The casino announced last year that it would give up rights to a portion of that property so the city could sell it to Topgolf, a chain of high-tech driving ranges. City officials said the groundbreaking for Topgolf is now likely in the spring. Topgolf officials declined to comment.
Nearby, other developers plan to reopen a new iteration of Hammerjacks, the venerable Baltimore concert hall and club. And a local brewery, Checkerspot Brewing Co., opened last year.
The main Hammerjacks space is expected to seat about 2,000, which would make it a bit bigger than the Rams Head Live venue in Power Plant Live in downtown Baltimore.
“This new entertainment corridor is going to be transformational for the city and for South Baltimore," said David Nevins, a spokesman for Hammerjacks. “Parking will be abundant while the access roads will draw patrons from north and south. In addition, each new attraction, starting with the reincarnation of Hammerjacks will feed off of each other and all will likely benefit.”
Nevins offered no update on a timeline for Hammerjacks.
Ravens President Dick Cass echoed those comments about benefits to the city. He said a concert venue might not directly benefit the NFL team, but a vibrant city would be good for residents and the surrounding area, which in turn would support the team. He added that safety on game days has not been an issue, but he said more activity in the area would make for a safer environment on non-game days.
“This will be just part of what will happen between M&T and the casino, and it’s a real positive for the city," Cass said. “It’ll bring a lot more people downtown, create jobs. ... After games rather than get in their car, people can go see a show at the Paramount or golf or go to the casino.”
City leaders have pushed for new uses for the area, which is largely separated from South Baltimore’s neighborhoods by train tracks and road overpasses. They are calling it the “southern gateway” to Baltimore, and the goal is to improve the fortunes of not just the casino but the city generally.
The casino has lagged behind the performance of the state’s top two casinos: MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County and Live Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County, state figures show.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission reported last week that Horseshoe’s revenue slipped 10 percent in September to $18.5 million, compared with a year earlier. Overall, the $142 million in September revenues from all casinos was down just over 1 percent compared with the same month last year.
The casino, completed in 2014, was the catalyst for the newest projects. But Caves Valley has developed many properties in Baltimore County and more recently refurbished the Cross Street Market and built the mixed-use project Stadium Square, both nearby in South Baltimore’s Federal Hill.
City officials say the Topgolf and the performance venue project will spur more development.
“This entertainment venue at 1300 Warner Street along with Topgolf will serve as an anchor in an ongoing effort to create a vibrant entertainment corridor along Warner Street,” said Kim Clark, executive vice president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s development agency, in a statement. “These anchors will not only serve as a catalyst to attract other entertainment and nightlife venues, they will create jobs and increase the tax base.”
The new concert hall would cost about $50 million to develop and also have retail space, potentially a restaurant.
The old warehouse on the site now is too run-down to save, according to the design team, which presented renderings of a modern industrial design for the concert hall Thursday to the city’s architectural review board, the Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel.
“The goal of the project is to create a sense of place, a unique place,” said Matt Herbert of Design Collective, which is designing the building. “People will enjoy this place not just for the specific performance ... they will be coming to a place to enjoy this district and what happens to be a fun show tonight.”
The development group bought the aging warehouse building in 2017 for $4.8 million, state land records show. The new 80,000-square-foot concert venue is expected to break ground in the spring and open in 2021, according to a prepared statement from the developers.
At 4,000 seats, the Paramount Baltimore will offer more capacity than Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric and the Hippodrome Theatre, which each have about 2,500 seats.
The venue also will have competition. The UMBC Event Center, which opened in 2018, has had success in booking acts a few miles south in Baltimore County, said Tiffany Sun, general manager of the center on the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus. It has partnered with national venue manager OVG Facilities and can seat more than 5,200 people for concerts.
Casino officials said the new entertainment district would have a lot to offer visitors.
“We’re excited at the prospect of another world-class venue in the Southern Gateway as part of our vision for the Warner Street redevelopment," said Randall Conroy, the Horseshoe’s senior vice president and general manager, in a statement. "This concept has the potential to complement the dynamic entertainment experience available at Horseshoe Baltimore and being planned for Topgolf Baltimore.”