Mayoral hopeful O'Malley proposes tax-funded office to help businesses

July 30, 1999|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,SUN STAFF

Democratic mayoral candidate Martin J. O'Malley wants to use tax revenue generated by two downtown hotels and an apartment building to create a three-person office dedicated to helping neighborhood businesses.

In a news conference yesterday at the corner of Park Heights Avenue and West Cold Spring Lane, O'Malley outlined a proposal based on similar programs in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and made possible by the federal Community Reinvestment Act. The law requires banks to make capital available in the cities where they do business.

As a result, nine lending institutions have committed $1.3 billion in loans in Cleveland, O'Malley said, while the 22 neighborhood organizations that make up the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group have gotten $3.4 billion in private investment.

O'Malley's proposed Mayor's Office of Community Reinvestment could be run for $300,000 a year, he said, and would be paid for with 10 percent of the new revenues generated by three projects granted tax incentives -- the Southern Hotel at 1 Light St., the 750-room hotel being built by John Paterakis Sr. and the Redwood Towers.

O'Malley outlined his proposal before a dozen passers-by in front of a shuttered business he said had closed because of the lack of financing. Asked for details, he said the information came from one of his supporters, who admitted she wasn't sure why the proprietor couldn't keep his shop open.

Pub Date: 7/30/99

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