2 rivals vying to oversee building of marine center


The Rouse Co. and the Manekin Corp., two longtime development rivals, are now vying for the chance to manage construction and development of the $200 million Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration planned for Pier 5 and Pier 6.

Stanley Heuisler, chairman of Christopher Columbus Center Development Inc., the non-profit group planning the marine research center, said four companies recently expressed interest in managing construction of the project and that a special committee of the board has narrowed the list to two.

Other bidders included the Toombs Development Co. of New Canaan, Conn., and Bell Atlantic Properties of Philadelphia.

Mr. Heuisler said that a five-member committee of the board will interview representatives of Rouse and Manekin within the next week. He expects the committee to make a recommendation to the full board in time for its June 27 meeting.

After receiving an unsolicited proposal from Rouse earlier this spring, the board sought expressions of interest from companies that would like to manage construction and development of the project.

Richard Alter, president of Manekin, said that the company responded because it is handling more and more development work for others on a fee basis and the partners think Columbus Center is going to be "a really sexy project."

"We thought, in looking at this and being familiar with development activity on the east side of the harbor, that it would be a wonderful opportunity for Manekin," he said. "Among the things we do as a com

pany is put projects together, and if there is an opportunity in our backyard, we want to be involved, to take a shot."

Mr. Heuisler said that the board could decide not to hire either company and instead hire its own staffers to manage construction.

Members of the review committee are David Gillece, acting president of Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc.; Honora Freeman, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's assistant for economic development; Rita Colwell, president of the Maryland Biotechnology Institute; Rodney Little, executive director of the Maryland Historic Trust; and Mr. Heuisler.

The quasi-public board has already raised more than $14 million for design and construction of the center. It has obtained $11.5 million in federal funds, $1.68 million in state funds, $1 million in city funds and $410,000 in private funds.

The group is seeking a parking revenue bond issue of up to $12 million and $18 million in federal funds during the 1991-1992 fiscal year.

A preliminary design will be unveiled in the fall. Construction is expected to begin sometime next year.

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