City allots $2 million for Howard Street project

Funds to buy properties to revive the west side

February 06, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Baltimore Board of Estimates approved an expenditure of $2 million yesterday to continue the condemnation and purchase of properties around downtown Howard Street as part of the west-side redevelopment project.

The city's development arm, Baltimore Development Corp., will use the money to start buying properties in an area bounded by Fayette, Liberty, Lexington and Howard streets, according to M.J. "Jay" Brodie, BDC's director.

No developer has been selected for the site, although the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has in the past discussed creating a retail development and might still be interested, Brodie said. The city will buy the properties, then ask potential developers to submit proposals for evaluation.

This site is just north and east of a block where Bank of America is funding the construction of hundreds of apartments and dozens of shops as part of another development on the west side of downtown.

In other action, the board approved the purchase of 15 abandoned homes that the city hopes to sell for redevelopment as part of Mayor Martin O'Malley's Project 5000.

The city is paying $77,442 to condemn and purchase the properties: five houses in the Upton neighborhood, near the federal Hope VI redevelopment project called Heritage Crossing; three near a continuing redevelopment project in Sandtown-Winchester; and seven in an area near Johns Hopkins Hospital where a biotechnology park is planned.

William N. Burgee, the city's director of property acquisitions and relocation, said the purchases will allow developers or nonprofit groups to fix up ugly, run-down properties that might otherwise detract from nearby redevelopment projects.

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