HANOVER, MD—With more than a century of real estate development behind it, The Cordish Companies at any one point in its history has had a global choice in where it wants to do its next project. This time around, however, its own backyard here in Anne Arundel County has turned into the ideal location to launch the first-ever Live! Hotel.
The company, chaired by David Cordish, recently topped off what will be the brand’s flagship, a 17-story, 310-room luxury hotel adjacent its Live! Casino at Arundel Mills and proximate its 250-unit Live! Lofts accommodations.
The tower structure will include an event center with 1,500-seat concert venue, meeting space and ballroom, several dining options, and a spa and salon, adding an aggregate 350,000 sq. ft. of space to the state’s already largest gaming operation.
Owned under PPE Casino Resorts Maryland LLC, (doing business as Maryland Live! Casino), the property will be managed by a division of The Cordish Companies.
If the Live! moniker seems familiar, it’s because the trademarked label is on a variety of popular entertainment and sports-anchored developments. Most recognizable for hospitality industry movers and shakers is L.A. Live!, a familiar environ for those attending the yearly ALIS conference in Los Angeles. It’s the only such destination to be licensed with the Live! name in the U.S.
“We thought it would be brand accretive, and this was a group [AEG/Anschutz Entertainment Group] that would treat the brand correctly,” said the chairman.
And while the bulk of its business has been in real estate development since its founding in 1910, the chairman noted the Live! properties “are not our first rodeo” in lodging. In recent decades, the firm has expanded into gaming and hospitality, such as the Seminole Hard Rock Casino Hotels in Tampa and Hollywood, FL, and the Charleston Place Hotel in South Carolina. It also built a hotel in downtown New Haven, CT, in conjunction with Yale University, which is run by Omni Hotels & Resorts.
“About 35 years ago, we went to the U.S. Patent Office and we trademarked the word ‘Live!’ in three contexts: one is for casinos; one is for live entertainment districts [a plaza Cordish creates with dozens of entertainment/dining venues around it]; and the third one is hotels,” said Cordish. “For decades, we’ve used two of the three; now, we’ve creating a new division that will create ‘Live!’ hotels.”
Live! Lofts is the company’s entry into the boutique space with the brand whereas the Live! flagship is billed as a full-service, luxury property.
“Our prime motive in creating these two was to cater to our Rewards casino customers,” said Cordish. “Maryland Live! Casino has over a million rewards cardholders, and every time they gamble, they get points added to their cards, and we give them rewards for their points. It might be a cruise to the Caribbean, might be a free meal at our steakhouse. Now what we’ve added to it is a free room at our Live! hotels.”
The new Live! Hotel will feature a number of attractive offerings to those coming to the casino and Arundel Mills Mall, considered the state’s top destination with 14 million visitors a year.
The hotel’s event space will feature a built-in performance stage; banquet seating for up to 800 persons; and pre-function, meeting and executive boardroom space. Dining options will include David’s Café (named after the company’s chairman) with 24/7 service and community seating; Luckies Gelato, offering coffee drinks, pastries and an Italian specialty gelato; and a lobby bar with 50-plus seats. The property will also offer Live! Spa, salon and fitness center and a Live! retail store.
Guestrooms will offer advanced technology, lighting and amenities in an environment of gray colors, with accents of polished wood used on floors and furnishings. The Live! brand will be used in the artwork and accessories.
“Our hotels have some sex appeal,” said Cordish. “It’s not a standard Four Seasons [type], which are very nice. Lord knows, they’re fabulous. But you certainly don’t think of Live! when you think of Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton; they’re sedate. Well, we’re not sedate.”
“We can do things differently because we are a family-owned company,” said fourth-generation member Blake Cordish, VP, The Cordish Companies and head of its real estate division. “The combination we are now offering with the luxury Live! Hotel, Live! Lofts boutique hotel, and one of the nation’s top casinos is unmatched. We are especially excited to be introducing this concept in our hometown, where we have received so much support and worked hard to give back to the community.”
The project also is underpinned by a roster including general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp.; Las Vegas-based Klai Juba Wald Architects; designers Laurence Lee Associates of Los Angeles with interiors by Cleo Design Corp. and Selbert Perkins; McLaren Engineering Group and mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers Giovanetti Shulman Associates; and landscape architect EDSA.
The company plans to expand the Live! Hotel and Live! Lofts models in the U.S. and internationally as stand-alone and casino-tandemed hotels, with an upcoming casino hotel planned for Philadelphia.
While the new hotel isn’t expected to open until next year, Cordish isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. “We’re building a convention center next to the hotel and casino. We own it 100%; however, the county gave us a tax real estate PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and we are letting the county use it for free,” the chairman said.
With the hotel project tagged at some $200 million, the addition of the convention center as well as the existing casino, which opened about five years ago, has put the overall development cost at close to $700 million-$800 million, according to Cordish’s estimation.
There are some 10 hotels in the area, but the executive sees the demand from the casino keeping his two Live! hotels very much alive in terms of occupancy.
“Our occupancy is going to be around 98%,” said Cordish. While the hotel will be open to the public, he added, “We’re going to use it to reward our customers. We welcome the cash business and we’ll get plenty of that (Live! Lofts has that mix now)… It’s for somebody looking for a more fun experience than a traditional hotel.” HB