The City Council has passed legislation giving the city the power to acquire, by eminent domain, about 3,000 properties for an east-side revitalization project centered on a biotechnology park.
Passage of the urban renewal plan Thursday night cleared the way for major acquisition and relocation activity to begin late this winter or early spring, said Laurie B. Schwartz, interim chief executive officer of East Baltimore Development Inc., the nonprofit organization overseeing the project.
"This is one of the main pieces," Council President Sheila Dixon said yesterday.
Planned for land north of the Johns Hopkins medical complex, the project will include a 2 million-square-foot biotechnology research park and up to 2,000 new and renovated homes. It is expected to be built over the next 10 to 12 years.
"It really is a bold and dramatic plan to transform East Baltimore from a deteriorated and blighted area to a healthy and growing neighborhood," Schwartz said.
The legislation includes agreements meant to help the 800 households likely to be moved from the neighborhood. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has committed $5 million to that effort.
The legislation also calls for the creation of work force training and mentoring programs for small businesses relocated by or participating in the project.
"It enables that entire neighborhood to be totally revitalized," said Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch. "It's been a long time coming, a long time overdue. I am excited about the prospect of a brand-new community rising up over the next 10 years in the area."