Waterfront project blooms at once-toxic site

Offices, homes due for 2015 completion

January 23, 2008|By John Fritze | John Fritze,Sun reporter

A long-vacant and contaminated property near Fells Point will become an $830 million office and residential campus - making it one of the largest waterfront developments in Baltimore - government officials said yesterday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and Mayor Sheila Dixon joined other state and city leaders for the official groundbreaking of Harbor Point, a 27-acre project along South Caroline Street that developers said would be completed in 2015.

The project, which will receive millions in public subsidies, was hailed as an important component of the city's waterfront, as well as an example of how developers are finding new use for former industrial sites.

"This is a terrific accomplishment, to have been able to take this brownfields site and turn it into one of the most phenomenal waterfront sites anywhere in the United States of America," O'Malley said.

The 1.8 million square-foot project, which is being developed by H&S Properties Development Corp. and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, will include office space, shops and homes. Last year, Morgan Stanley announced it would be a tenant, bringing up to 900 jobs to the city.

H&S Properties Development Corp. is owned by bakery magnate John Paterakis Sr., who has developed much of Harbor East.

In October, Harbor Point's developers requested millions in city subsidies, most of it in tax-increment financing and the rest in parking revenue bonds. Tax-increment financing allows the city to borrow money for a project and repay the loan with property taxes generated by the development.

Officials with the Baltimore Development Corp. said yesterday that negotiations over public subsidies are under way. State officials said Maryland will contribute $4 million to Morgan Stanley as long as the company reaches its job-creation goals.

The project is on the site of the former AlliedSignal chromium plant. Planning for the development has taken more than a dozen years and $100 million in environmental improvements.

"This truly is a world-class site," said Struever Bros. Chief Executive Officer C. William Struever. "This site is too important to just put a fence around."

About 100 supporters, including U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Michael S. Beatty, president of H&S Properties, and City Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents the area, huddled through yesterday's ceremony amid blustery weather and a brief sleet storm.

"People come to Baltimore - they either move here or they're visiting here - and they say, `Wow, you have a great city,'" said Dixon. "Well, this is another example that's going to put Baltimore on the map to make it even greater."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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