Almost exactly a year after announcing the project, Ed Snider still doesn't know exactly when construction will begin on the new hotel, retail and entertainment complex that will fill the space after the Spectrum is knocked down. And he doesn't know exactly when the demolition of the old place will begin.

But they are considering a pretty interesting idea.

"Tentatively, New Year's Eve," said Lou Scheinfeld, the original Spectrum executive who came back to shepherd the yearlong closing of the building. "At least that's my idea right now."

As for the construction and development of the site, which will be directed by The Cordish Company of Baltimore, Snider said he cannot give a start date. He does acknowledge that the recession is a factor in the timing while stating flatly, "It's definitely going to happen."

"We don't actually have the permits we need yet, but we're moving forward and the city is being cooperative," Snider said. "Eventually, they will happen. But none of us are immune to the economic issues. And when you see what is happening to banks and [their reluctance to] lend money, that's not our issue, that's The Cordish Company's issue. They're the ones building the whole thing and taking the big risk. But I don't think you could finance this tomorrow. Will you be able to finance it when we're ready to tear this place down? Who knows what's going to happen between now and then?

"The economy is an issue for everyone. Hotels are hurting. Retail is hurting. If you could wave a magic wand and have the whole thing here tomorrow morning, would you want it here tomorrow? You want to open when the timing is correct.

"The project is going to happen," Snider said. "But the timing of the project is dependent on the economy." *