The city has selected the redeveloper of the Power Plant to bolster the Pier Six Concert Pavilion, a move that is intended to bring in bigger named acts and likely to result in a substantial renovation to the 4,000-seat arena.
The selection of the Cordish Co. to operate and manage the canvas-topped entertainment facility comes less than a month after the city's economic development agency tapped the Baltimore real estate company to revive the sagging Brokerage complex at Market Place.
As part of its proposal, Cordish and New York concert promoter Metropolitan Entertainment will upgrade and diversify the entertainment; add to the number of shows presented each year; improve the pavilion's signage; offer a wider variety of foods and concessions; and increase the amount of marketing dollars spent on promotions.
Cordish, whose other Pier Six partner is John Paterakis Sr., developer of the Wyndham Inner Harbor East Hotel and owner of the Harbor Inn at Pier Five, may also attempt to add as many as 500 seats to Pier Six.
"Cordish had the best proposal on paper and the best proposal in their presentation," said Bill Gilmore, executive director of the Baltimore Office of Tourism. "If that proposal can be contractually brought to fruition, it will be good for the city."
Gilmore declined to reveal specific financial terms of the Cordish selection, citing continuing negotiations.
With the selection, Cordish will have 60 days to negotiate specifics with the city. An official announcement regarding the selection and the future of the pavilion east of the Inner Harbor is expected at the end of the year.
Cordish's selection followed unsolicited proposals the city received earlier this year from two other firms interested in operating the pavilion. Cordish was one of three respondents to a city request for proposals, Gilmore said.
As part of a tentative agreement between the developer and the city, Cordish would manage Pier Six for two years, with an option through 2002.
"We look forward to enhancing one of the city's premier entertainment venues for the 1999 season and beyond," said Allison Parker, a Cordish spokeswoman. "And our objective is to keep the Power Plant in the public eye.
"Improving the image of the Pier Six concert pavilion ultimately improves the image of the Power Plant."
The city tapped Cordish to resuscitate the derelict Power Plant in 1997, after a Six Flags Corp. indoor theme park failed and shuttered the 601 E. Pratt St. building for seven years. Cordish invested $25 million under a lease with the city and installed a Hard Rock Cafe, Barnes & Noble bookstore, and an ESPN Zone restaurant and arcade.
Although Cordish has little formal experience running concert pavilions, it is not a complete novice: The company's Bayou Place project in Houston includes a 3,000-seat arena.
Parker said the Hard Rock Cafe is expected to bring concert acts to Pier Six.
The Office of Tourism has operated the pavilion for the past four years.
"We believe the venue has been underutilized and with the growth of the Inner Harbor as even more of a tourist destination, the market isn't being served by Pier Six as well as it could be," said Carl Freed, Metropolitan Entertainment's vice president of business development. "It needs more diverse programming and more of it. It needs a little tender loving care."
Pub Date: 12/15/98