Court to hear 2 hotel cases

Wyndham project being challenged over legality

Foes seek to block it

April 17, 1999|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The state's highest court has agreed to hear two cases that challenge the legality of a 31-story hotel under construction east of the Inner Harbor.

The Court of Appeals' decision to hear the cases involving the $134 million Wyndham International Inner Harbor East hotel marks the third time that the upscale lodging project has faced a legal challenge.

The Waterfront Coalition of Baltimore Inc., a loose affiliation of 11 neighborhood groups, asked the court to hear the cases in an effort to block the 750-room hotel being developed by a group led by John Paterakis Sr.

In one of the cases, the Court of Appeals will decide if the hotel may receive $75 million in tax breaks provided by the city.

A city Circuit Court judge struck down the pledged tax breaks in November on the grounds that state law prohibits "payment in lieu of taxes" (PILOT) programs on privately owned land.

A bill passed in the recently concluded General Assembly session would allow the Wyndham to receive a PILOT.

The other case centers on the coalition's contention that Paterakis' H&S Properties Development Corp. and the City Council violated the Inner Harbor East master plan when the plan was amended to allow the Wyndham. Two lower courts ruled that the amendments were allowed.

"These cases raise important issues involving urban planning," said John C. Murphy, an attorney representing the Waterfront Coalition.

"I'm very happy that the court has decided to hear the cases, and I'm optimistic. I think we have a good case and the city code is behind us."

The court has yet to set a date to hear the two cases.

Michael Beatty, an H&S Properties vice president, said the developers hope that the court follows the lower court rulings.

"There's a very small but persistent group opposed to the project, and they are going to every level possible to delay us," Beatty said. "But the city as a whole is behind this project."

The Wyndham is one of nine new hotels planned for the city by 2002 that would add a total of 3,500 rooms.

The Wyndham is the only hotel under construction. It is scheduled for completion late next year.

Pub Date: 4/17/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.