City nears deal to fix damaged promenade in Harbor East

Thames St. walkway blocked off since partial collapse

November 24, 2010|By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun

A long-impassable section of the brick promenade that rings the Inner Harbor could soon be repaired if a settlement deal among Baltimore officials, a team of Harbor East developers and a design firm is approved by the city's spending board.

The section of promenade, which spans the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Thames St., was built by the city with a state highway grant in 2004. It partially collapsed about three years ago, after "undetected soft soils" settled, shifting the bricks. City workers fenced off the damaged portion to prevent injuries.

The city sued Jackson's Wharf LLC, the development company that owns the land, and design firm STV Inc., contending that the companies were at fault for design flaws.

Under a settlement deal, the city would pay $225,000 of the repairs, STV would pay $740,000 and Jackson's Wharf, which is owned by bakery and real estate magnate John Paterakis Sr., would pay $335,000.

City Solicitor George Nilson described the deal as an "excellent settlement for the city that took a long time to accomplish."

But City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who heads the city's five-member Board of Estimates, balked at making a decision on the agreement Wednesday.

Young had not been briefed on the settlement and wanted to learn more before ruling on it, spokesman Lester Davis said. The spending board is expected to consider the proposal Dec. 8.

The seven-mile-long brick promenade that skirts the harbor is popular with joggers and tourists but has been a source of headaches for city officials.

The city sued the developer and residents association of a Canton luxury townhouse development this summer after the developer refused to replace a floating promenade with a land-based walkway. Several other gaps exist in the promenade.

George Philippou, an attorney for Paterakis, said Jackson's Wharf was finalizing a deal with a contractor to repair the promenade.

Construction on the project — which entails removing the promenade, driving piles into the soil and replacing the walkway and bricks — is expected to begin in the spring.

Jackson's Wharf is in the early stages of planning a development project for an adjacent parcel of land, Phillipous said. The property is now used as a parking lot.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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