Cordish wins St. Louis job


The St. Louis Cardinals chose the Baltimore-based Cordish Co. yesterday to build a mixed-use development behind the outfield of the baseball team's new stadium, a project the developer expects will lay groundwork for additional partnerships with professional teams to create entertainment districts around sports complexes.

Ballpark Village, to open by 2007, will feature condominiums with views into the new ballpark, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and offices clustered on 8 acres adjacent to the stadium, which is under construction and scheduled to open next year.

Bill DeWitt III, the Cardinals' senior vice president of business development, said the ball club selected Cordish from about 40 potential developers based on the company's record with urban, mixed-use projects, such as Power Plant and Power Plant Live! in Baltimore and Fourth Street Live! in Louisville, Ky.

"I liked the fact that they took a real master-planning approach," he said. "Generally speaking, they would plan the whole thing and make it happen all at once."

The Cardinals' owners were impressed with the lineup of tenants at Cordish's projects, DeWitt said.

"In many cases, they were looking for a particular mix, and if they didn't find it, they created the concept themselves," he said.

The deal was announced at a news conference in St. Louis that included DeWitt; his father, Bill DeWitt Jr., the team's managing general partner and principal shareholder; Jonathan Cordish, a Cordish Co. vice president; his brother, Blake; and Mayor Francis G. Slay.

For Cordish Co., the deal kicks off a broader initiative in which the developer hopes to marry its expertise in developing mixed-use entertainment complexes with professional sports teams to develop projects centered around stadiums. Jonathan Cordish said Ballpark Village will break new ground in development.

"This is the first instance anywhere in the country where there's going to be an entire village or district created in conjunction with and coordinated with a state-of-the-art urban stadium," Cordish said.

He said the company is working with several other professional teams to complete similar deals. It is developing more than nine city blocks in Kansas City, Mo., with retail, entertainment, office and residential uses adjacent to the new Sprint Center arena.

Cordish and the Cardinals will form a partnership to develop the project, about a third of which will be for-sale condos and offices and another third will be devoted to retail and entertainment. The rest will probably be used for public plazas and an expansion of a Cardinals Museum and Hall of Fame.

The project will replace Busch Stadium, which is in its final season, and is expected to cost $450 million or more.

The vision for a new ballpark has included more than just a new venue for the Cardinals, DeWitt said.

"We saw this new ballpark ... as a linchpin for additional development downtown," he said. "It was clear if we build right next to Busch Stadium, we've got an 8-acre site ripe for development. It was clear that from a Cardinals standpoint, we want a good mix of uses and from an urban planning standpoint, a village concept was what would best serve the area. It's our hope that ballpark village will get people to live down here, work down here and play down here."

Other developers are eyeing the potential for developing mixed-use projects around sports complexes. Former National Basketball Association star Magic Johnson has teamed with the Mandalay Entertainment Group to invest in urban renewal projects anchored by minor league baseball stadiums. One such project could involve a new $25 million to $35 million home for the Mandalay-owned Hagerstown Suns.

Such plans make sense at a time when projects that mix uses such as retail, residential and office are succeeding and helping to revitalize downtowns, said Anita Kramer, director of retail development for the Urban Land Institute in Washington.

"People like to have a place where many things are happening at once, and it works," Kramer said. "It is a great way to bring new uses downtown. On one hand, the different uses support each other. Office workers support retail during the day, those who live there support it at night and weekends. It works for a city because it creates a vibrant area again."

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