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BDC staff recommends $107 million TIF tax break for Harbor Point

TIF bonds for infrastructure improvements come on the heels of a 50% reduction in future property taxes.

harbor point terrace view 2

The Harbor Point parcel, as viewed from the Legg Mason building, with Fells Point and Locust Point in the background.

Photo by: Fern Shen

The staff of the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) this morning recommended a $107 million tax break to finance infrastructure improvements for Harbor Point, the future home of Exelon’s regional headquarters and by far the largest private development proposed in the city.

Pushed by the developer since last summer, the measure is expected to be submitted to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the City Council, both of whom supported an earlier TIF plan for the waterfront site south of Harbor East.

The $107 million TIF (tax increment financing) would not be a direct subsidy for the $1.5 billion development headed by Michael S. Beatty and financed in part by H&S Bakery mogul John Paterakis. (Beatty recently spun off from Paterakis to form his own company, Harbor Point Development Group LLC.)

Property Tax Used to Pay Bonds

Instead, under a TIF the city issues bonds on behalf of a private project, and the developer pays off the bonds with revenues that would otherwise be paid in property taxes to the city.

“In theory, it shouldn’t cost the city any current dollars,” Darrell Doan, director of real estate development, told the BDC board today.

He said the city would greatly benefit from the expenditure because the funds would be used to finance a waterfront promenade as well as 9.5 acres of public parklands.

Beatty originally proposed a TIF allocation of $154 million, but came back last summer with a plan for about $100 million. Doan stressed that point to the BDC board, saying the agency’s tough negotiating stance had helped “drive the costs down to the city.”

The “EZ” Tax Break

Last summer, a spokesman for the Beatty group told The Brew it was seeking a reduced TIF from the city to lower the overall interest it would have to pay for financing.

The spokesman, Marco Greenberg, said the group was willing to pay more upfront rather than face the prospect of dipping into its own pocket to pay off any shortfall of property-tax revenues designated for TIF bonds.

Another factor was that Harbor Point was recently awarded a substantial tax break. Last fall, the City Council supported the BDC’s recommendation to reinstate the Harbor Point property to the city’s list of eligible Enterprise (“EZ”) Zones.

While appearing to be an arcane matter, the EZ reinstatement will save the Beatty group tens of millions of dollars over time. That’s because EZ inclusion makes the Harbor Point site eligible for a 50% reduction of property taxes for five years (with reduced levels of tax breaks over the following five years).

The Beatty group argued that without the credits available in an EZ zone – a program set up to stimulate private investment in neighborhoods with high levels of unemployment and vacant housing – they would be unable to lease office space to potential tenants.

Beatty said the tax credits would flow directly in reduced rents to prospective tenants, thus is not really a subsidy to his company.

Patterned After Harbor East

Harbor Point is located between Harbor East and Fells Point – areas that include some of the most expensive housing in the city.

The new development will be anchored by the Exelon tower and feature upscale apartments, Class A office space and posh retail outlets patterned after Harbor East, the development Beatty has successfully led since 1995.

In addition to TIF bonds for the project, the city is currently spending more than $30 million to make improvements to Central Avenue.

The roadway is set to cross a small inlet of the harbor with a new four-lane bridge to connect the Exelon and other proposed Harbor Point sites, which are now reachable only by Caroline Street from the north.

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  • BmoreFree

    “Beatty said the tax credits would flow directly in reduced rents to
    prospective tenants, thus is not really a subsidy to his company.”

    Mr. Beatty forgot to mention that the tax reduction that will allow for lower rents will make some existing projects in the original downtown core of Baltimore not financially tenable. I am all for lower property taxes, but lets do it across the board and let market forces determine where to build and renovate. What we have here is zoning and other government regulation robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Also, I am sure that 100% of the reduction in taxes will not flow to reduced rents. This is a sweetheart deal. However, I think the use of TIF financing here is appropriate since there is no city infrastructure on the parcel and the city (and its residents) will get a nice park and promenade for no upfront cost.

  • cwals99

    Third Way corporate democrat Rawlings-Blake
    declares Baltimore near bankruptcy so has to cut all kinds of public
    services and employee benefits. Meanwhile she has moved billions to
    building a luxury downtown and mortgaged the city’s revenue
    for decades with tax deals to rich developers. Building a Manhattan
    from an industrial blue-collar city is mighty expensive and all city
    residents are seeing all their city funds sucked into the Best of the
    Best plans for the affluent.

    ‘We need to do this or businesses
    won’t come here’ is the refrain. WE DO NOT WANT NATIONAL AND GLOBAL
    BUSINESSES THAT USURP OUR DEMOCRACY FILLING OUR ECONOMY!!!! American
    citizens across the country are demanding investment in small and
    regional businesses and giving the boot to mega-corporate control. The
    best way to raise revenue for the city…….RECOVER TENS OF TRILLIONS
    STOLEN IN CORPORATE FRAUD ACROSS ALL BUSINESS SECTORS! Simply reinstate
    Rule of Law!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Yowza. Allied-Signal (now Honeywell) spent $100 million to encircle and cap the hexavalent chromium on the site (a chrome works since 1845). Now another $137 million is going to infrastructure. That’s $237 million — nearly $10 million an acre — spent before the offices, apartments, and retail even get underway. The mind, she boggles.

  • KnowNothingParty

    Ohh boy, what a scam!! Mayor SRB cant fund school contruction, cant fund neighborhood firehouses, has increased taxes and proposes to institute new “fee’s” to raise revenue for poor old Baltimore City. Yet, she is willing to give tax breaks to fat cats to “encourage” them to develop on prime real estate.
    Here is a good idea. For this property alone charge whatever the average property tax rates of surrounding jurisdictions is. This way re development is encouraged, this parcel becomes competitive AND the city still gains revenue from it. This can be the new policy. As new developments are constructed they get the lower competitve property tax rate. Eventually the competitve tax rate is placed on all structires within this town. This plan, called “The Know Nothing Plan”, allows property taxes to be reduced to competitive rates over time, allowing the do nothings in City Hall the ability to ween themselves off of property tax revenue or God forbid, it might even spur growth. BUT will it allow the do nothings in City Hall to ween themselves off of the practice of being able to bestow tax breaks to fat cats, who incidentially donate large amounts of cabbage to re election campaigns.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    I’m all for flogging politicians whether they deserve it or not, but let’s get the terminology straight: a TIF (tax increment financing) isn’t a tax break. It takes the property taxes that wil be paid and uses them to cover the principal and interest of the bonds issued to pay for the park, promenade, streets, sidewalks, etc. on the site. The EZ deal is a tax break. Probably, the development would not have happened without out. In that case, the city would receive 100 percent of nothing, rather than the 50 percent of something under the EZ deal.

    • BmoreFree

      Harbor Point is the last undeveloped large parcel between Fells Point and Harbor East. While the EZ deal helps to make their numbers look better the City probably could have negotiated a better deal (i.e. shortening the increments for increases). This is a very attractive and unique piece of real estate that would have been developed into something regardless. Instead of all this EZ zone nonsense the City should be focused on lowering overall rates and then letting the market decide which projects are feasible and which are not. Further, I understood the original concept of the EZ program was to combat years of disinvestment and attract jobs and development to those areas – this parcel is quite the opposite.

      The city did do a good job negotiating the TIF financing and I think Baltimore residents will really enjoy and make good use of the resulting infrastructure improvements.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

        BmoreFree, I agree with everything you wrote. Except that, as nice a location as Harbor Point is, the site is still basically a slurry-enclosed, clay-capped, 65-foot-deep barrel of hexavalent chromium-laden fill (most of the area was harbor 200 years ago). Nasty stuff. Developing this site is going to be very challenging.

  • BmoreFree

    The TIF will (or should) cover the sewer and water hook up and running all through the site, installation of electric, the Central Ave. bridge, landscaping, building a promenade on the harbor edge, &tc. There is quite a bit of work to be done on the site since it is now nothing more than an empty gravel lot. If a well done home kitchen renovation can run $50k or more just think how much money you will have to spend over 26 acres.

    • bmorepanic

      But generally speaking, the developer would be required to put in the utility connections in any development. Why are we paying for it.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

        bmorepanic wrote: “But generally speaking, the developer would be required to put in the utility connections in any development. Why are we paying for it [?]”
        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        We’re not paying for it. The increased property taxes Honeywell (nee Allied-Signal, nee Baltimore Chrome Works) will pay on the site — which is being developed by Beatty, et al, under a long-term lease arrangement — will be used to retire the bonds issued to pay for the promenade, parks, streets, sidewalks, utilities, etc.
        While we won’t get the benefit of the property taxes until after the bonds are paid off, we will still get the state and local income taxes of the residents of a thousand new apartments, retail and restaurant taxes, all the other freakin’ taxes businesses have to pay, the related economic activity generated by all those residents plus a large corporation that isn’t splitting town, and (lest we forget) one less huge vacant lot in a town with a lot of vacant lots. And nine acres of parkland and a well-used promenade.
        Still, I’m sorry the Notter+Finegold plan, which called for a park on all 26 acres, wasn’t adopted. Would have been beautiful, and that part of town really could use the outdoor space.

        • MC2012

          By designating the area an Enterprize Zone (EZ), the state (and feds?), pick up a good portion of the development incentives. A valid criticism of incentives generally is that City taxpayers subsidize office development where the majority of the workers commute from, and pay taxes in the ‘burbs. The upside of enterprize zones is it allows us to regionalize the cost of redeveloping the site. Yes it’s attractive waterfront, but it’s also a superfund site.
          At the end of the day, lower taxes for all would be much better policy, but city politicians will never ween themselves of the lucrative power to dole out tax breaks.

        • MC2012

          By designating the area an Enterprize Zone (EZ), the state (and feds?), pick up a good portion of the development incentives. A valid criticism of incentives generally is that City taxpayers subsidize office development where the majority of the workers commute from, and pay taxes in the ‘burbs. The upside of enterprize zones is it allows us to regionalize the cost of redeveloping the site. Yes it’s attractive waterfront, but it’s also a superfund site.
          At the end of the day, lower taxes for all would be much better policy, but city politicians will never ween themselves of the lucrative power to dole out tax breaks.

          • Gerald Neily

            MC2012, by your line of reasoning, the entire city should be made into an Enterprise Zone, or at least the vast majority. Seems logical to me.

  • ZacharyMurray

    100 million in revenue could build a lot of affordable housing. DC is investing about that much in a trust for affordable housing in this budget alone. Why hasn’t the city negotiated substantive affordable housing requirements in this and other developments in which they are contributing significant public dollars? Shame on our leaders for once again neglecting the needs of this city’s hardworking and heavily pressured working class residents.

  • Gerald Neily

    This is the best and most attractive development site in the city, unburdened by the usual urban problems as Exelon commented in a great previous Brew story. The $100M already spent by Allied-Signal is a “sunk cost” which has simply made it more so. The city’s economic development strategy needs to focus on making the other 99% of the city viable, not lavishing extra attention and tax breaks on Harbor Point. This includes the Westport site which competes directly with Harbor Point, but unlike the latter, is inextricably intermingled with the city’s chronic housing, social, economic, transit and other problems. Thank you, Bmore Free, for saying it best.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Gerry Neily wrote: ” … The city’s economic development strategy needs to focus on making the other 99% of the city viable, not lavishing extra attention and tax breaks on Harbor Point. …”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Okay, fine. Here’s a question for Gerry and all the other “city hall needs to invest in the rest of the city” folks: what happened to the hundreds of millions (more than a billion in today’s dollars) that have been “invested” in just the Pennsylvania Avenue, Upton and Park Heights neighborhoods since the 1968 riots? Following umpteen city-led charrettes, planning sessions, and whatnot, those neighborhoods have gotten a subway line that connects them with the city’s largest employers, new libraries, extensive demo and rebuilt housing, new schools, fire houses, and the list of investments goes on and on. And that’s just a couple neigborhoods in one quadrant of the city.
    (My collection of books highlighting city capital expenditures throughout the years is buried in storage, or this post could go on forever. But the books are also in the Maryland Room at the Pratt.)
    By rights, PA Avenue, with its market, subway stop, two-way traffic, parks, churches, densely built (i.e. “walkable”) adjacent neighborhoods, nearby college (Coppin), mall (Modawmin), and huge park (Druid HIll) should be a New Urbanists wet dream by now.
    So, tell me what happened, what lessons have we learned as taxpayer-investors? And where _are_ the neighborhoods that can generate enough increased property taxes to pay off the bonds on a $100 million TIF? Westport? Alas, Turner’s the latest visionary who arrived too soon for the vision.

    • Gerald Neily

      Why argue with you, JHunt? You KNOW you and I agree. OK, here’s another way of saying it: ADDING MAXIMUM VALUE needs to be the city’s strategy. You just did a great job of recapping how this has not happened. And when the city further subsidizes that which is already the best, it diverts investment from elsewhere. How can Westport and Turner compete with that? It’s not that Turner arrived too soon. The light rail was completed 20 years ago. That’s why I said Bmore Free said it best, including that there’s nothing wrong with TIFs.

      And please do not confuse investment with the distribution of new urbanist wet dream free pork goodies, which are like running up a down escalator. For example, just the other day Dan Rodricks was talking on his radio show to Klaus Philipsen about how great it would be to knock down the JFX ($1Billion project) to create a new boulevard (among other frivolities) right after they bemoaned the failure of MLK and other boulevards. I should sentence you to read my entire blog from cover to cover.

    • Gerald Neily

      Why argue with you, JHunt? You KNOW you and I agree. OK, here’s another way of saying it: ADDING MAXIMUM VALUE needs to be the city’s strategy. You just did a great job of recapping how this has not happened. And when the city further subsidizes that which is already the best, it diverts investment from elsewhere. How can Westport and Turner compete with that? It’s not that Turner arrived too soon. The light rail was completed 20 years ago. That’s why I said Bmore Free said it best, including that there’s nothing wrong with TIFs.

      And please do not confuse investment with the distribution of new urbanist wet dream free pork goodies, which are like running up a down escalator. For example, just the other day Dan Rodricks was talking on his radio show to Klaus Philipsen about how great it would be to knock down the JFX ($1Billion project) to create a new boulevard (among other frivolities) right after they bemoaned the failure of MLK and other boulevards. I should sentence you to read my entire blog from cover to cover.

    • ZacharyMurray

      James Hunt you continue to perpetuate this myth that hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested or “wasted” in predominately Black communities in West Baltimore. That simply has not been the case, any study of redevelopment in Baltimore shows that of the hundreds of millions of dollars of federal and state investment since the 1970s, the overwhelming majority flowed into downtown and Harbor redevelopment. The investments in other parts of the city have been at best sparse and horribly coordinated into a broader strategy of citywide redevelopment. I urge you to read up and remain factual in the points you raise. http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/documents/cr12b21.pdf

      • BmoreFree

        ZacharyMurray – from the table on page 51 of the report (page 63 of the PDF) it seems the funds were pretty well spread around Baltimore’s neighborhoods. The major conclusion that I saw from the report was that Federal and State minority contracting/bidding requirements were too confusing and did not reach the intended beneficiaries of the policy. I have seen the Baltimore City government take an active interest in neighborhoods outside of the downtown core. Perhaps all of this is neither here nor there and the City and the Federal government should try to stay out of real estate as much as possible.

        As I see it the underlying problem is the erosion of the city’s tax base and job opportunities. More people choosing to live in the city + more businesses opening (large and small) = better amenities for all City neighborhoods.

    • ZacharyMurray

      James Hunt you continue to perpetuate this myth that hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested or “wasted” in predominately Black communities in West Baltimore. That simply has not been the case, any study of redevelopment in Baltimore shows that of the hundreds of millions of dollars of federal and state investment since the 1970s, the overwhelming majority flowed into downtown and Harbor redevelopment. The investments in other parts of the city have been at best sparse and horribly coordinated into a broader strategy of citywide redevelopment. I urge you to read up and remain factual in the points you raise. http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/documents/cr12b21.pdf

  • Marc Szarkowski

    Great comments James and Gerry! I think the problem with the amenities James cited is that people expect them to be silver bullets when they’re anything but. A walkable commercial street or a park or a new school building are all nice things to have *for their own sake,* but expecting them to solve the problem of chronic idleness is wildly unrealistic and naive. No New Urbanist I know designs the amenities James cited to serve as simplistic catch-all fixes; rather it’s the politicians and a coterie of desperate individuals who expect these amenities to solve problems they’re simply not designed to solve!

    That’s the problem with the many, many, many, many, many, many social service initiatives and urban amenities Baltimore has strenuously sought to provide since WWII: none of them address the core problem of chronic idleness! At some point we have to step back and ask: We’ve tried every noble experiment imaginable, and *none* of them have had the effect we hoped they would. School spending keeps going up, but results keep getting worse. Housing is constantly rebuilt, but it’s also constantly trashed. Is this the fault of the amenities, or of deeper social/behavioral problems that no amount of gifting will solve? “Change” never comes from external agents – Teddy Roosevelt’s “do what you can with what you have where you are” saying comes to mind – and we have to stop thinking that every rec center or firehouse or complete street is a ghetto-fixing salve: they’re all great things to have on their own merits, but they can’t solve problems they aren’t designed to solve.

    Here’s a surprisingly similar example of a city (Paris) trying every program imaginable (free k-thru-college schooling, free healthcare, free housing, stipends for food, and general cash payments) and failing miserably because it couldn’t address the core problem of idleness (the terrifying vacuum of having nothing to do), a problem that can only be addressed by the idle person him/herself:
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/12_4_the_barbarians.html

    But I also agree with Gerry that there ARE ways various orgs can “add maximum value” to help people address the problem of idleness. The metro, for example, goes to two major employment nodes (downtown and Johns Hopkins) but it doesn’t connect carless jobseekers with the *many* employment centers that have since sprouted elsewhere. So intelligently, incrementally expanding it to either reach these new centers or to facilitate their development near the metro (where “TOD” stops being rhetoric and becomes a practical reality) is, I think, just one example of “maximizing value.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    “Neily, you magnificent bastard! I read your blog!”

    (obscure reference source: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/70071-rommel-you-magnificent-bastard-i-read-your-book)
    Westport needs to be Otterbein-ized. Fence it off for 18 months. Give residents and homesteaders low-interest loans to reno every property simultaneously. Calm the through traffic like you (Gerald) did to Hanover Street in O-bein. Pave the streets, fix the sidewalks, plant trees. Not hugely expensive. Then, and only then, will the Westport Waterfront attract the kind of outside capital it needs to succeed and pay off its (proposed) TIF. If the Waterfront tries to develop first, we’ll end up with an Atlantic City scenario where the water’s edge looks good but nothing ever happens on the inner blocks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Marc Szarkowski wrote: “…The metro, for example, goes to two major employment nodes (downtown and Johns Hopkins) but it doesn’t connect carless jobseekers with the *many* employment centers that have since sprouted elsewhere. So intelligently, incrementally expanding it to either reach these new centers or to facilitate their development near the metro (where “TOD” stops being rhetoric and becomes a practical reality) is, I think, just one example of “maximizing value.” …”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Good points. Quick addendum: the Metro Subway also goes to the Owings Mills job-a-palooza, and Gerald has proposed that it be extended from Hop East Balto to Hop Bayview via the MARC right of way (cheaper, given that there’s not much tunnelling to be done). Given that a huge number of jobs in the Baltimore area are growing up near centers of learning and research, this makes a lot of sense. I believe Gerald also recommended running the Red Line from the Franklin-Mulberry corridor out the Amtrak right of way to UMBC, rather than to Social Security (again cheaper because of less tunnelling, as well as not screwing up Edmondson Avenue). Again, this makes sense as SS jobs are giving way to increased computerization while UMBC is thriving under Hrabowski. It’s probably too much to ask that a long term plan for the Metro Subway be developed so that it could function like synapses linking the neurons (universities) in the ginormous brain that is our fair city, but I’ll ask anyway.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Marc Szarkowski wrote: “…The metro, for example, goes to two major employment nodes (downtown and Johns Hopkins) but it doesn’t connect carless jobseekers with the *many* employment centers that have since sprouted elsewhere. So intelligently, incrementally expanding it to either reach these new centers or to facilitate their development near the metro (where “TOD” stops being rhetoric and becomes a practical reality) is, I think, just one example of “maximizing value.” …”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Good points. Quick addendum: the Metro Subway also goes to the Owings Mills job-a-palooza, and Gerald has proposed that it be extended from Hop East Balto to Hop Bayview via the MARC right of way (cheaper, given that there’s not much tunnelling to be done). Given that a huge number of jobs in the Baltimore area are growing up near centers of learning and research, this makes a lot of sense. I believe Gerald also recommended running the Red Line from the Franklin-Mulberry corridor out the Amtrak right of way to UMBC, rather than to Social Security (again cheaper because of less tunnelling, as well as not screwing up Edmondson Avenue). Again, this makes sense as SS jobs are giving way to increased computerization while UMBC is thriving under Hrabowski. It’s probably too much to ask that a long term plan for the Metro Subway be developed so that it could function like synapses linking the neurons (universities) in the ginormous brain that is our fair city, but I’ll ask anyway.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Marc Szarkowski wrote: “…The metro, for example, goes to two major employment nodes (downtown and Johns Hopkins) but it doesn’t connect carless jobseekers with the *many* employment centers that have since sprouted elsewhere. So intelligently, incrementally expanding it to either reach these new centers or to facilitate their development near the metro (where “TOD” stops being rhetoric and becomes a practical reality) is, I think, just one example of “maximizing value.” …”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Good points. Quick addendum: the Metro Subway also goes to the Owings Mills job-a-palooza, and Gerald has proposed that it be extended from Hop East Balto to Hop Bayview via the MARC right of way (cheaper, given that there’s not much tunnelling to be done). Given that a huge number of jobs in the Baltimore area are growing up near centers of learning and research, this makes a lot of sense. I believe Gerald also recommended running the Red Line from the Franklin-Mulberry corridor out the Amtrak right of way to UMBC, rather than to Social Security (again cheaper because of less tunnelling, as well as not screwing up Edmondson Avenue). Again, this makes sense as SS jobs are giving way to increased computerization while UMBC is thriving under Hrabowski. It’s probably too much to ask that a long term plan for the Metro Subway be developed so that it could function like synapses linking the neurons (universities) in the ginormous brain that is our fair city, but I’ll ask anyway.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    ZacharyMurray wrote:James
    Hunt you continue to perpetuate this myth that hundreds of millions of
    dollars have been invested or “wasted” in predominately Black
    communities in West Baltimore. …
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Sorry, t’ain’t a “myth.” I’ll see your .pdf and raise you a stack of CIP (capital improvement program) books in the Maryland Room, plus countless studies, charrettes, etc that were conducted for the areas I mentioned. Here’s some hard reality for you, Mr. Murray, the money was spent and there’s precious little to show for it in the way of improvement. And it’s not just Upton and Park Heights. Oldtown is the same story. Not to mention a public housing project in far east Baltimore (name eludes me now) that was a showpiece when it was built in the 70s and has since been demo’ed and is an industrial park. And the story goes on and on. At least we have something to show for the money plunked down on the Inner Harbor.

  • Gerald Neily

    Great discussion, folks. Whether Zachary, James or both of you are correct, we should at least be appalled by the very short lifespan of many previously touted city developments. I read the summary of the 1983 report Zachary linked, and it touts Old Town as a positive example of doing right. Yuck, now Old Town is a disaster area. Hollander Ridge, is the Far East Baltimore 70s project James was trying to remember. It’s totally gone now. These are examples of bad physical planning, whether the intentions were noble or not. But the lesson should not be to ignore those areas, it’s to do it right for a change.

    On the other hand, a fairly recent Goldseker report says we should not pour money into areas that are too far gone. I agree that if we can’t do it right, it’s not worth doing (same for transit), but I also have trouble believing we really can’t do it right if we have the will. But so much optimism in this town is really just wishful or cynical propaganda.

    James, I can’t take credit for the highly successful Otterbein traffic scheme, even though like you I’ve used it as a great example for what should be done in Mount Vernon and elsewhere. I believe the credit goes to David Chapin, who in the 70s was sort of the collateral damage control guy for the Interstate Division, and Warren Anderson at City Planning. I can’t wrap my head around your Otterbeinization of Westport at the moment.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jamiehunt344 James Hunt

    Jay Brodie completely misses the point of Mencken’s “medieval city” remark, but this is an interesting read nonetheless: http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/blog/real-estate/2013/03/brodie-city-needs-a-plan-to-clean-up.html?page=all

    • Gerald Neily

      Jay Brodie’s Bizjournal column is interesting only for its total starvation of ideas, after decades of dead-end planning under his regime. The “success” he touts in Upton is based primarily on mass demolition, destroying its heritage. Mencken was quite prescient. Today we have ruins and feudal medievalism he could have only imagined. Let’s move on to some actual real ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/Macnac100 Mac Nachlas

    The justification is that the development would not be viable without the TIF and EZ…. which might wash if this were a normal development project being built at risk. But Excelon is mandated by law as part of their acquisition of Consellation to build an HQ building here. If this project can’t proceed without the TIF… then let’s let Excelon build on a location that does not require so much infrastructure investment… and let them pay taxes……

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