Bill would require that hotels getting aid involve minorities

November 11, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

In the first attempt to put a legislative stamp on downtown hotel development, a West Baltimore city councilman introduced a bill last night to require a measure of minority ownership of any hotel receiving city funds.

The bill by 4th District Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell did not specify a percentage, leaving it to the Board of Estimates, a panel of the city's top elected and appointed officials, to set the number.

Current city law requires that minority contractors receive at least 20 percent and women vendors receive at least 3 percent of business generated by public development projects. The bill goes a step beyond that to apply to minority ownership.

It would apply to any hotel built after Jan. 1. That means the bill would cover a controversial proposal by baking magnate John Paterakis to construct a luxury hotel at Inner Harbor East as well as a plan by Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos to build a hotel across from the Baltimore Convention Center.

Mitchell said he was introducing the bill to ensure that minority groups have a stake and benefit from "a concrete piece of Baltimore's second renaissance."

Mitchell had nine co-sponsors for his bill, enough for a majority of the 19-member council. However, council members who co-sponsor legislation do not always support a bill when it comes up for a vote.

Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, a co-sponsor, invited "city solicitors to work with us so [the bill] passes legal muster."

Neither Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke nor representatives of the Paterakis team could be reached last night for comment.

Paterakis' team includes the Stormont Trice Corp., an Atlanta developer that has been partners with Herman J. Russell, owner of the largest black-owned construction firm in the nation.

The council held its first public hearing last week on the Wyndham Inner Harbor East Hotel, a $132.6 million project that would be financed with about $50 million in public subsidies.

Also last week, a group led by Angelos proposed a $150 million, 850-room Grand Hyatt for city-owned lots across from the convention center and asked for about $50 million in public subsidies. The Angelos proposal has not been accepted by the city.

In other action yesterday, the council rejected a proposed rule change that would have allowed public comment on a monthly basis at council meetings.

The rule change proposed by 6th District Councilman Melvin L. Stukes was voted down, 8-6.

Bell criticized the proposal as a "Pandora's box" that could turn meetings into "a circus."

Pub Date: 11/11/97

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