Funds OK'd to condemn part of Block Board advances plan for parking garage

February 01, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's top officials yesterday approved $2.6 million for the condemnation of several properties on The Block to make way for a parking garage across the street from the new headquarters of the investment firm Alex. Brown Inc.

A city commitment to build a garage on the north side of the 300 block of E. Baltimore St. was a key element in Alex. Brown's decision last spring to consolidate its headquarters in the Commerce Place office tower at the corner of South and Baltimore streets, rather than move hundreds of high-paying jobs to the suburbs.

Preservationists, concerned with the historic value of buildings that are part of the city's two-block-long red-light district, had pushed for a location on a vacant lot nearby. But company officials, making no secret of their desire to speed the demise of the decaying adult entertainment center, insisted that the garage be built on The Block.

Yesterday's unanimous action by the five-member Board of Estimates, made without comment, would provide money to buy and condemn six properties in the 300 block of E. Baltimore St. and one in the first block of Guilford Ave. Values of the properties range from $233,000 to $494,000, based on appraisals by the city.

Baltimore's housing department is ready to file court papers saying that the city needs to take immediate possession of the properties, according to a written explanation of the expenditure presented at yesterday's board meeting.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke -- who is a board member along with

other key city officials -- said afterward that construction of the 375-space garage would have several positive effects.

"I think it's going to help us not only with Alex. Brown and [the dissolution of] The Block, but also on downtown parking problems," he said.

A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Alex. Brown's chairman and chief executive, said he was "delighted" with the board's action. "The mayor is living up to his part of the agreement," Mr. Krongard said.

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