October 19, 2017

Cordish plots glass mixed-use tower at BCCC's former downtown campus

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The Cordish Cos. will get another shot at redeveloping Baltimore City Community College's Inner Harbor campus, releasing plans on Thursday that show a hulking glass tower at the prime downtown site.

College officials on Wednesday evening approved the Baltimore-based developer's bid to revamp the 1.1-acre parcel at 600 E. Lombard St., known as the Bard Building, after a six-month deliberation process.

Cordish Cos. CEO David Cordish told the Business Journal earlier this week his plans for the site involve a mixed-use redevelopment with apartments and retail. The exact specs of the project were not immediately available on Thursday. The name "Marketplace" is shown on the side of a rendering of the building.

The 169,000-square-foot building, located in a heavily traveled part of downtown frequented by tourists, is connected to the Cordish-operated Power Plant Live entertainment complex and has sat vacant since 2010.

This will be the Cordish Cos.' second chance at transforming the Bard Building site, which BCCC owns in conjunction with the state. The college awarded Cordish exclusive development rights to the property in 2010, but those plans crumbled in 2012 when disputes arose over costs and the possible relocation of the Baltimore Holocaust Memorial next door.

College officials did not offer immediate details about the contents of the winning bid, though the announcement indicated the project would result in "modernized facilities and world-class residential and retail space" at the site, "along with a renewed BCCC presence for workforce development and college programs."

“We are extremely excited about being selected and look forward to working with Baltimore City Community College and the State of Maryland in developing a world class mixed-use project," Zed Smith, chief operating officer for Cordish, said in a statement."

The request for proposals, issued earlier this year, asked bidders to submit a plan that would "transform the campus area into a vibrant urban center by creating a mixed-use commercial development at moderate to high densities." The document also said the college might be interested in leasing up to 50,000 square feet of space in the redeveloped space.

The project could include a relocation of the Holocaust Memorial site, the document said. In 2012, the Cordish Cos. indicated it was not interested in relocating the memorial and wanted to move forward with redeveloping the Bard Building alone.

In a statement, Downtown Partnership President Kirby Fowler said the developer's new plan would "realize the site's full potential."

BCCC President Gordon F. May also issued a statement calling the Bard Building "the linchpin of a renaissance – both for the college and the Baltimore downtown area."

"We hope this underscores BCCC's determination to recapture our position as an engine of the city's economic growth, developing students into future leaders and employees," he said.

The five-story building was dedicated in 1976 and named after the college's founder and first president, Harry Bard. Inside, it contains a a library, classrooms, student lounge, fashion design studio and staff offices. The college's main campus is at 2901 Liberty Heights Ave.