BDC notes goals in property sale

Rules for Key Highway repair shop aimed at ensuring vibrant waterfront development

Baltimore & Region


Baltimore Development Corp. officials, at a meeting opened to the public after criticism, outlined yesterday their goals in selling a key city-owned property in South Baltimore.

Officials announced height limits, open-space requirements and other technicalities for the former Fire Department repair shop on Key Highway -- rules written, they said, to guarantee a vibrant waterfront development that the community could enjoy.

"We've been saying over and over and over again in this [request for proposals] how important it is to maintain public access," said BDC Vice President Andy Frank. "The message is very clear."

Yet in the audience of about 30 -- community leaders, developers and the media -- some residents complained that the BDC's guidelines were too vague.

The repair shop sits amid a swath of expensive waterfront real estate along Key Highway that is scheduled for rezoning through a new urban renewal plan, a process that hundreds of South Baltimore residents from Federal Hill to Locust Point have watched apprehensively for nearly a year and that dozens of people have weighed in on through the on Key Highway Task force.

Frank told those in attendance that the sale of the repair shop site depends on the city's ability to afford a new central repair garage.

The idea behind selling the repair shop was to incorporate it and another garage on Dickman Street into a new maintenance facility in East Baltimore. The National Aquarium in Baltimore intends to move a satellite operation into the Dickman Street site. The city expected proceeds from the repair shop sale to help build the new garage.

The city is awaiting results of a second round of bidding for the new garage. If the bids are too high, as they were the first time, Frank said the city likely will scrap selling the repair shop.

Though the BDC originally intended to put the repair shop site up for sale by the end of the year, Frank said yesterday that the agency would hold off until the city receives the garage bids early next month.

Some residents urged BDC to wait even longer -- until the Baltimore City Council approves the Key Highway urban renewal plan.

The BDC promised to post the development guidelines released at yesterday's meeting on its Web site, www.baltimoredevelop

BDC officials originally intended yesterday's meeting to be "by invitation" to members of the Key Highway Task Force but opened it after task force members and public officials complained to The Sun.

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