09/19/2003 12:00AM

Pimlico renewal approved


The Baltimore Design Advisory Panel approved plans for a proposed overhaul of the Pimlico Race Course property on Thursday.

The proposal would entail razing the existing grandstand and reconfiguring the racing oval on the northwest corner of the property. The entire project would take 3 1/2 years to complete.

Pimlico is owned by a partnership of the Maryland Jockey Club and Magna Entertainment Corp.

Magna and the MJC have been pursuing slot machine legislation in the state, an effort that made headway this year with the backing of the governor before running into opposition in the legislature.

On Thursday, representatives of the MJC and Magna said they intended to go ahead with the Pimlico redevelopment regardless of the outcome of the slots effort in upcoming years.

"This is our ultimate vision for Pimlico, and the vision has enough flexibility to accommodate slots if slots are authorized," said Joe De Francis, the MJC's president, quoted in the Baltimore Sun.

The owners of Pimlico have not announced a date for when the project would begin, or put a price tag on the renovation. Racing would be conducted at Pimlico's sister track, Laurel Park, while construction proceeded.