Council vote gives boost to hotel plan Urban renewal law likely to be changed in Wyndham's favor

December 09, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

In its second action on the Wyndham Hotel proposal, the Baltimore City Council gave additional support yesterday to baking mogul John S. Paterakis Sr.'s controversial waterfront development.

Last night's 18-1 vote to amend the urban renewal ordinance for Inner Harbor East, the site for the proposed 750-room hotel, comes on the heels of last week's council vote to give conditional approval for construction of a shorter, wider Wyndham. There was no public discussion on the hotel before yesterday's vote.

Both bills will come up for final passage Monday. If they are adopted, the council will turn its attention to the hotel's financing package, which would detail the amount of public money that would be used for the project.

The financing package is due to the council by early February.

"We're very happy about the support and the vote of confidence that the City Council has given us," Michael Beatty, development director for Paterakis' H&S Properties Inc., said after the vote. "Our goal has always been the same -- to get this hotel built and running to serve Baltimore by the year 2000."

John L. Cain, who represents East and Southeast Baltimore, was the only council member to vote against the hotel last night.

"This is setting a terrible precedent for the entire city," Cain said. "With this bill, we have scrapped the urban renewal plan for this area. That means all other urban renewal plans are in danger."

Other council members viewed yesterday's vote on the hotel as a compromise between the business community that wanted a large hotel and residents who wanted a smaller one, or no hotel at all.

In response to residents' demands that no public funds be used for the Wyndham, 1st District Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. introduced a bill last night that would prohibit public assistance to any hotel built in downtown Baltimore.

"Many of my constituents have a problem with the kind of financing this hotel is receiving," D'Adamo said. "My constituents are telling me, 'We don't care about the location, we don't care too much about the height, but we don't want any of our tax money going into this hotel.' "

But some opponents of the hotel said yesterday that the council's action was no compromise.

"We're going to continue to oppose this hotel in this configuration," said Carolyn Boittnott, an East Baltimore resident and member of the Waterfront Coalition, a citizens group that monitors waterfront development. "Despite the amendments they made to the bills, the Wyndham would still be the second tallest building in the city."

The council last week passed amendments that would limit the height of the Wyndham to 41 stories. Developers had been seeking permission to build a 48-story structure.

The urban renewal ordinance that was adopted in May 1990 and amended yesterday prohibited the construction of any structure taller than 180 feet on the waterfront.

Pub Date: 12/09/97

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