City Delays Plan To Sell Properties After Comptroller Questions Price

November 19, 2009|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,julie.scharper@baltsun.com

The city's spending board postponed a vote on a plan to sell a parcel of West Baltimore properties to a team of developers after the city comptroller raised concerns that the buildings were being sold for a tenth of their appraised value.

City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt recommended that the Board of Estimates hold off on voting after noting that the four properties in the 400 block of N. Howard Street, recently appraised at $1.2 million, were being sold to Howard Street Lofts LLC for $100,000.

The city purchased the buildings for $381,000 in the 1990s, and they have been vacant since.

The developers' plan to construct a mix of offices, retail space and residences is the "first feasible project" proposed for the site, said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's quasi-public development arm. Plans for two other projects have fallen through, he said.

The project will bring jobs and tax revenue to the city and could stimulate more development in the area, which is three blocks from the "superblock" area, a key piece of the city's Westside revitalization program, Brodie said.

The BDC and Pratt are slated to meet to discuss the issue in the coming days.

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