December 17, 2010

Power Plant Live! To Get Plaza Upgrade, New Tenants

The Power Plant Live entertainment district is getting a permanent outdoor stage with oversized video screens covered by a 50-foot-high glass canopy in time for next summer's concert season, the project's developer said Friday.
The $11 million makeover also includes new bars and restaurants and marks the first major renovations since the project opened a decade ago in downtown Baltimore a block north of the Inner Harbor. 

"It's building upon an existing strength and taking it to a new level," said Reed Cordish, a vice president of Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., which renovated the collection of buildings formerly known as the Brokerage and opened Power Plant Live at the end of 1999. "We've found across the country, one must reinvest to continue to move forward. It's not the type of district that can remain stagnant."

The complex at Lombard Street and Market Place houses Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Havana Club and Rams Head Live, among others. New tenants include Tatu Asian grill, which operates another restaurant in Hollywood, Fla., and opened recently in the Power Plant Live space formerly occupied by the Blue Sea Grill restaurant.

Country-themed bar PBR Baltimore, which stands for Professional Bull Riders, will open in the spring near Angels Rock Bar on the second level above sports bar Luckie's Tavern, which is expanding. PBR also operates bars in Las Vegas and in the Power and Light District, a Cordish-developed project in Kansas City, Mo.

Cordish also said he is close to finalizing a deal to bring in a 7,000-square-foot restaurant concept that would open by summer in space formerly occupied by the Improv Comedy Club.

He declined to comment on a report Friday by the Baltimore Business Journal that the Baltimore Comedy Factory, now located above Burke's Restaurant downtown, has signed on as a tenant.

In an e-mail, the Comedy Factory's owner, Matt Weber, said he believed Cordish's planned investment at Power Plant Live would "make it an even greater destination for years to come." He also said: "We look forward to being a part of the future of Power Plant Live!" But he declined to provide any other details.

Together, all of the new tenants who have signed leases or are expected to soon would boost retail occupancy at the project to 100 percent, Cordish said.

He said the outdoor plaza upgrades, which also would include a new valet drop-off area, will be similar to features at other Cordish-developed entertainment districts, such as the Kansas City Live block in the Power and Light District, where thousands of people often gather to watch high-profile events such as World Cup soccer on giant video screens.

The plaza outside Power Plant Live already has become the site of free, weekly outdoor concerts each summer as well as Baltimore Ravens events.

"That plaza has become this great part of downtown Baltimore entertainment," Cordish said. "Now it will have elements that make it truly state-of-the-art."

Other upgrades include improvements to common areas of the 220,000 square feet of office space at Power Plant Live, which is now 80 percent occupied with tenants such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, law firms and Mission Media.

Power Plant Live was the developer's first district focused on bars, restaurants and other entertainment tenants. The company has since opened similar districts in Hollywood, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; and Kansas City that have already undergone improvements.

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