Jerri Stroud - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cordish Co., the Cardinals' partner in
developing Ballpark Village, has earned
a reputation as a shrewd developer of urban
developments over the last 25 years.
Cordish President David S. Cordish has
been called "the king of urban makeovers,"
a man who drives a hard bargain but delivers
fresh, vibrant developments, succeeding
where others have failed.
The family-owned company has nearly 100
years of experience in property development,
starting in its hometown, Baltimore. Louis
Cordish began building apartments and offices
there about 1910. His son, Paul, was active
in the company until his death in 2003.
David Cordish's sons, Blake, Reed and Jonathan,
are vice presidents. The corporate office
also includes some other family members
and a small, tightknit group of experts
in entertainment, retailing, food service,
gaming and hotel development.
As a private company, Cordish doesn't reveal
its revenue or the value of its holdings,
but its net worth is estimated in the hundreds
of millions of dollars.
Andi Udris, the president of Kansas City's
Union Station development, calls David Cordish
"an urban development genius"
who has the resources, contacts and commitment
to turn moribund urban centers into thriving
nests of nightlife, shopping, offices and
"He is a very hard bargainer, but
when he tells you he's going to deliver,
he delivers," said Udris, who recruited
Cordish as the developer of the Kansas City
Power & Light District. The $600 million
project is under construction on the south
side of Kansas City's downtown.
Bob Eury, president of Central Houston
Inc., said David Cordish's leadership of
the Urban Development Action Grant program
under President Jimmy Carter piqued his
interest in urban development through public-private
partnerships. Since then, he has pursued
projects in places that other developers
Cordish is among several Baltimore developers
who were inspired by James Rouse, who began
the redevelopment of Baltimore's Inner Harbor
and later led the redevelopment of Union
Cordish also has been active in the Inner
Harbor, a trendy part of downtown Baltimore.
The company headquarters is in the Power
Plant, an old electric generating station-turned-entertainment
Mixed-use projects like Ballpark Village
are among the most risky in real estate
development, said Christopher B. Leinberger,
a visiting fellow in metropolitan policy
at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"Most developers don't know how to
do it," Leinberger said. "Cordish
is the exception.
"The biggest risk is that you have
to have critical mass," Leinberger
The Cordish Co. "comes in with a large
enough project that allows critical mass
to be achieved very quickly," Leinberger
Todd Cassidy, director of economic development
at the Kentucky Department of Tourism, said
Cordish worked with Louisville and state
officials on revitalization of an urban
mall that had no real hope of recovery.
The result, Fourth Street Live! is a $66
million entertainment and retail center
that opened three years ago with nightclubs,
bars, stores and entertainment venues. It
features a Hard Rock Cafe, bowling and billiards
centers and restaurants including Maker's
Mark, a Cordish-developed eatery named for
the bourbon brand.
Fourth Street Live! — combined with
several other projects — has "completely
turned downtown Louisville around,"
In Houston, Cordish has continued to expand
Bayou Place despite the project's difficult
site in the center of Houston's theater
district, Eury said.
Bayou Place's movie theater is small compared
to a nearby multiplex, but it's still regarded
by some film buffs as the best place to
see a movie, Eury said. Cordish also has
found new restaurants to replace some that
failed. He's begun developing offices and
wants to add housing.
"It's an amazingly hard site,"
Eury said. But, he added, "they don't
get rid of projects. That's a credit to
them. They're not doing (projects) to flip
Leinberger, the Brookings Fellow, says
St. Louis should embrace Cordish Co.'s vision
for Ballpark Village if the city wants to
prosper in the long run.
"If you don't offer this, you're not
going to be in play and companies will go
elsewhere," he said. "If you want
to attract a creative class, you had better
have a hip downtown or they aren't going
to show up."
The Cordish Co. at a glance
Family-owned developer of shopping malls,
entertainment and mixed use urban projects.
Top official: David S. Cordish, president
Founded: 1910 by Louis Cordish, David's
grandfather, who built apartment and office
complexes in Baltimore. His son, Paul Cordish,
was active in the business until his death
in 2003. David Cordish's sons, Blake, Jonathan
and Reed, are vice presidents. Blake, who
is vice president of development, is closely
involved with Ballpark Village.
Employees: 100 corporate employees. Several
thousand employees who work in the developments,
including those at themed restaurants developed
by the company.