Harford ends bid to block auction of surplus land


September 21, 2005|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,sun reporter

Harford County's top official said the county has given up on an 11th-hour attempt to block today's auction of a 17-acre Army surplus property in the troubled Edgewood community.

After having passed on purchasing the property this year, the county was unwilling this week to pay the $3.5 million the General Services Administration deems to be the property's worth, said County Executive David R. Craig.

The county put the value of the land at $2 million because there are 71 neglected apartment units on the property and those buildings would have to be razed to clear space for planned recreational fields.

GSA spokesman Gary Mote said the land was first offered to the county for $1 if it were to build correctional drug rehabilitation facilities or self-help housing on the property.

Craig's predecessor, James. M. Harkins, declined when it appeared that a nonprofit organization and a private developer were pursuing a project on the parcel -- a project that eventually fell through.

The auction is set for 10 a.m. today at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood. Guthrie said more than 40 developers expressed interest, though Mote could not say how many would bid.

Guthrie expressed concern that the winning bidder could build Section 8 or low-income housing on the land, a possibility that Craig said is unlikely because the GSA's anticipated $3.5 million price tag is too high for low-income housing.

Craig said the county hopes to work with the winning bidder to keep some open space for the playing fields.justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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