October 17, 2017

David Cordish says Live Hotel will be 'game changer' as project advances

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The Cordish Companies took another step Tuesday toward opening a luxury hotel next to its Live Casino in Hanover, a move the company hopes will bolster its brand against competition.

Construction crews attached the building's final 1,400-pound steel beam to a crane and hoisted it to the roof as the theme from "Rocky" blasted over a crowd that included Cordish Cos. CEO David Cordish, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and other state and local dignitaries. Its installation marks the completion of the 310-room luxury hotel's outer frame, bringing the project closer to an expected opening date of spring 2018.

At 17 stories, the building is the tallest in Anne Arundel County.

As Live, Maryland's largest casino and long its highest-earning one, continues to grapple with competition from the new MGM National Harbor casino in Prince George's County, Cordish said the project will help to cement his development as an all-in-one destination.

"It's a game changer," he said Tuesday of the project, which is adjacent to the Arundel Mills shopping mall.

The hotel – which will also contain a spa and a restaurant from celebrity chef Todd English and will connect to a conference center with space to host live music performances and conventions – allows the casino to reward high-rolling customers, Cordish said.

"We have a lot of people coming here from Virginia, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and now we have the ability to give them a room as compensation," he said. "It will enable us to interact with our customers in a different way."

With the new hotel, Live Casino will surpass MGM National Harbor's guest room offerings by two. The $1.2 billion development, which opened in December, has 308 hotel rooms on a 1-million-square-foot resort.

The Cordish Companies already owns a boutique hotel, Live Lofts, across the street from the casino. But the new building represents a model of luxury hotels that the company plans to replicate across the country, Cordish said.

Earlier this month, the developer announced a partnership with Loews Hotels & Co. that will bring an eight-story hotel to its Ballpark Village development in St. Louis. The "Live by Loews" concept debuted in May, with the unveiling of another hotel under the partnership in Texas' Arlington Entertainment District. Cordish said at least two other hotel projects are in the works.

The Live hotel and conference center could see its taxes waived for 30 years if the Anne Arundel County Council approves a payment-in-lieu of taxes deal negotiated by Schuh's administration. The agreement would allow up to $1.2 million a year in real and personal property taxes to be exempt in exchange for giving local schools the right to use the space free of charge for graduation ceremonies, though county officials and Cordish estimate the actual tax assessment will be less.

Cordish said the PILOT deal, which would replace a $22.5 million tax increment financing package passed two years ago to aid the project, will allow his company to build a permanent event space with the capacity to accommodate up to 4,000 guests, as opposed to a previous plan that would have expanded the convention center space onto the top floor of a nearby parking garage using an airplane hangar-style extendable roof.

"When we were going to do a TIF, it was going to be a tent added, so this is a different kettle of fish," he said. "After we realized the demand was there, we decided let's do it right."