Developer Richard Swirnow's chances of being selected to build a $600 million medical trade mart and conference center next to the Camden Yards stadium improved yesterday after a competing developer offered to back off from his plan to build on the site.
C. William Struever, partner in a group that had pro- posed to build a $60 million to $75 million, 750,000-square-foot office complex on the site where Mr. Swirnow's group wants to build the major portion of its medical mart, told a committee of the Maryland Stadium Authority that his group has agreed to "pull back" on its proposal so Mr. Swirnow's group can develop the property. The 5-acre parcel lies immediately east of the dTC 1,000-foot long B&O; Warehouse, which is being retained as part of the stadium complex.
But Mr. Struever said his group was still interested in the south end of the warehouse and the interior of the historic Camden Station -- two other properties that Mr. Swirnow also wants to redevelop as part of the medical mart complex.
Mr. Struever's group, Camden Yards Joint Venture, wants to convert the south end of the eight-story, 216,000-square-foot warehouse to the Camden Yards International Center, a $12 million office center that would house non-profit organizations, international health organizations and companies involved in international trade. It also would have a training and conference center and a 40-room inn.
Camden Yards Joint Venture, which includes Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse, Greenebaum and Rose and the Time Group, also has proposed to convert the train station to house the Orioles Hall of Fame and Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, an Orioles retail store, a restaurant and a catering facility and
Mr. Struever announced his decision during a presentation to an advisory committee that has been reviewing four proposals that the Maryland Stadium Authority received in July for redevelopment of four parcels within the 85-acre Camden Yards sports complex.
"We want to complement and support the medical products mart," Mr. Struever told the seven member advisory panel. "We don't want to be seen as competing with it."
Mr. Struever's group and Mr. Swirnow's Parkway Swirnow Group were the only two seeking the right to redevelop all of the property that the stadium authority put out for bid.
Developers Daniel Stone and F. Michael Furlong proposed to convert the interior of Camden Station into a 9,000-square-foot day-care center, a restaurant and upper-level offices. And VSL Corp., an engineering and construction company based in Campbell, Calif., has proposed to build a $17-million people mover that would connect the Inner Harbor with the Camden Yards baseball stadium and the lot south of it. VSL representatives say their project would be compatible with any of the other three plans.
Tom Marudas, a vice president of the Parkway Swirnow Group, said that he thought Mr. Struever's decision to scale down its plan was "a very gracious proposal."
But he said Parkway Swirnow has an interest in recycling the train station as a "front door" to the giant medical mart, officially called the International Life Science Center.
Planned for construction in phases over the next five years or more, it would contain up to 2.5 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including a low-rise base and three towers rising over the air rights of the MARC train line. Mr. Swirnow described it as "the world's largest marketing facility for a trillion dollar industry."
Mr. Marudas told the advisory committee that his group did not necessarily need the south end of the warehouse to move ahead with its project. Asked if it might now back off its proposal to recycle the warehouse so Mr. Struever's group could move ahead with its project, he said, "That's worth talking about, sure."
The stadium authority sought proposals in May as a way to generate revenue that would help defray the costs of building and operating the new stadium, which will open next spring.
Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the stadium authority, said yesterday's "informational meetings" were designed to answer any questions the advisory committee members might have about the proposals. He said that the group is still reviewing all four bids and has no firm timetable for making recommendations about which plans the stadium authority might pursue.
Mr. Swirnow also heads a company that, with Singapore-based Parkway Holdings Ltd., is building the $600 million HarborView condominium complex in South Baltimore.
He and Mr. Marudas said that if the medical mart got approval by November, they would seek tenants at an international medical products exposition in Germany that month.
But they added that they still would like to obtain the right to develop a city-owned block bounded by Camden, Pratt, Howard and Eutaw streets as well as the air rights above the proposed $150 million Baltimore Convention Center expansion, where they hope to build a 1,000-room hotel.
City officials, who control the air rights and the Camden Street parcel, say they will wait to see what action the stadium authority takes before deciding whether to award the city sites ,, to the Swirnow group.