City to lease Fells Point pier to developer

February 04, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

A Fells Point developer and campaign supporter of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke gained boat docking rights to a popular harbor pier yesterday despite objections from area residents concerned about what might end up at the site.

The Baltimore Board of Estimates agreed to lease 119 of 149 feet of docking space along a bulkhead on the west side of South Ann Street for seven years to Sewell A. "Skip" Brown III. Brown, appointed by Schmoke to Baltimore Development Corp., a nonprofit city recruiting arm, owns several companies with services ranging from transportation to real estate.

The annual rent to Brown will be $3,576, which will be credited because he made $38,915 in sidewalk repairs to the area.

Brown, who contributed $2,500 to Schmoke's 1995 mayoral campaign, owns several shops along the dock, which is the site of water taxi deliveries of Fells Point visitors. The agreement would not change the water taxi status.

Despite community protests, Schmoke supported the agreement because of concerns about vagrants on the pier.

"It's a good deal because you'll get a property owner to take care of the area," Schmoke said.

But community groups, backed by Southeast Baltimore Councilman John L. Cain, oppose the pact, noting that the city did not put the docking rights out to bid. Residents are worried that the developer would be able to lure projects, such as floating restaurants, to the dock area, Cain said.

"There was no public notice and no public process for this," said Cain, who represents the city's 1st District, including Fells Point. "That just sends up a red flag and gives them a blank check."

Residents are worried about the agreement because of last year's debate over the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant proposed for the Inner Harbor. The city granted the developer, the Cordish Co., permission to build piers, not knowing that it intended to build a restaurant on one.

Pub Date: 2/04/99

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