Preservationists seek to rescind Superblock OK

$150 million Lexington Square plan would raze buildings

February 08, 2011|By Edward Gunts, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland Historical Trust board members, unhappy with preliminary plans for a key development on Baltimore's west side, on Thursday urged the agency's director to nullify a letter he wrote giving the project the green light.

The trustees voted to express "strong opposition" to the $150 million Lexington Square project and to request that the trust's director, J. Rodney Little, rescind a Dec. 22 letter saying the state agency would not hold it up, even though preliminary plans do not adhere to a legal agreement that calls for the preservation of certain buildings if at all possible.

The board also directed Little not to send letters approving development projects in the west side renewal area without first obtaining the board's approval. The board in addition voted to urge the Baltimore Development Corp. to "stabilize" the dilapidated former Read's Drug Store building at Howard and Lexington streets, the site of a 1955 sit-in, to prevent it from falling into further disrepair.

The trustees acted after hearing nearly three hours of testimony by Maryland preservationists concerned about the fate of historic buildings on the city-owned "Superblock," bounded roughly by Howard, Lexington and Fayette streets and Park Avenue.

City officials said in December that Little's letter was the key to moving the project forward after six years of planning. Little said after the meeting Thursday that he would decide in a couple of weeks whether to rescind his letter.

At the meeting, representatives from the state attorney general's office told the trustees they do not have the legal authority to rescind Little's letter or to force him to do so.

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