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3 groups present proposals for making over Power Plant City begins formal review; mayor to pick one in Nov.


For the three developers hoping to move into the shuttered Power Plant, it came down to 45 minutes each yesterday, to put on the hard sell before the city's economic development agency and an advisory panel reviewing proposals.

Pier Group Partners Ltd., a local investors group pitching a high-tech sports center, brought a video with a testimonial from hockey great Wayne Gretzky extolling technology and promised a state-of-the-art complex that would launch an international business to be headquartered here.

Baltimore's Cordish Co. touted three decades of developing urban entertainment centers, promised to fill a void in downtown night life and reported strong interest from big-name potential tenants.

Britain's Grandname Ltd. played up the uniqueness of its project, saying that visitors would come from far and near for virtual reality "journeys" through 15 European countries.

Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC), the economic development agency, and the six-member panel began their formal review of the proposals yesterday. The BDC is to recommend one to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who is expected to make the final decision by early November.

BDC closed yesterday's presentations to the news media, but the three developers spoke later about their pitches in interviews.

* Linda O'Dea, president of Sports Central, predicted that the $30 million project would become a pioneer in high-tech sports virtual reality. Baltimore, she said, has a chance to demonstrate the potential of the sports wizardry and attract repeat visitors with "total immersion," featuring circular screens and motion simulators.

The city would become home to Sports Central's world headquarters, Ms. O'Dea said.

* Blake Cordish, the Cordish Co.'s vice president for development, said the company has what the other contenders lack: a proven track record that could be extended to Baltimore. Having developed about 30 urban projects nationwide, most of them reviving former failures, the Cordish Co. told the panel that it has attracted interest from proven prospective tenants such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood for its proposed $18 million "Metropolis at the Power Plant."

* David Gable, chief executive of Grandname, told the panel that the $18.6 million "European Experience" would succeed because it is so unlike the traditional offerings of urban centers.

The complex would feature virtual-reality journeys through 15 European countries, with rides simulating skiing in the Alps, fishing in the Mediterranean, flying a balloon over a provincial town square, he said. Customers would be able to buy ethnic foods in each country's exhibit, or dine at a seafood restaurant, also to be used for special events.

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