A group of developers has proposed leasing buildings near the Inner Harbor to build a $20 million retail and office complex in the Marketplace area.

The city and the Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management group must approve the plan before it can go ahead.

The proposed complex of interconnected buildings would house businesses specializing in renovation products such as lumber, light fixtures, carpeting and hardware. It also would house offices for architects, contractors, real estate agents and lawyers involved in downtown development.

The $20 million proposal was made by developer Marc Horwitz, architect William Meyers II and businessman Francis J. Knott [a group of developers selected by the city and the Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management group in competitive bidding to come up with plans for the city-owned property. The proposal] would include renovation of 22 buildings within a three-acre area next to the Inner Harbor to create 200,000 square feet of commercial space.

Many of the buildings in the Marketplace area would be leased from the city under long-term agreements.

"We're talking about a very active retail center that would also be open in the evening," Meyers said. "This is a market that is just being touched." i

The project also would include a 250-car parking garage.