Board approves bonds for waterfront townhouses

HarborView project to feature public walkway

April 03, 2003|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The city's approval yesterday of $5 million in bonds for the HarborView waterfront townhouse development project near Federal Hill will allow the company to start building next month a public harbor front walkway and 88 homes, officials said.

"This will transform this section of the waterfront into a very classic-looking, urban community," said Frank Wise, a vice president of the HarborView Properties Development Corp. after a unanimous vote by the city's Board of Estimates.

The board, which is in charge of overseeing almost all city expenditures, approved the creation of the city's first Tax Increment Financing Bonds, which will borrow money against future real estate taxes that will be generated by construction.

The $5 million in bonds, on top of $5 million pledged by the state, will allow the developers to rebuild the crumbling waterfront bulkheads and create a brick walkway for the public, with decorative lamps, benches and planters.

Richard Swirnow, an owner of the HarborView company that built a 249-unit condominium high rise near the site several years ago, showed the board drawings of his next phase: 19th-century-style, three-story brick townhouses, with stone arches, decorative cornices and large windows. Most of them will be built on two piers jutting out more than 400 feet into the harbor.

Mayor Martin O'Malley said the new variety of bonds are a more precise instrument for the government to help pay for development projects than simple tax breaks, which the city has been handing out to developers for years to encourage construction. The bonds are more exact, O'Malley said, because they are limited to a fixed-dollar amount, as opposed to granting a broader tax break.

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