Rodricks wrong on Harbor Point

August 22, 2013

Dan Rodricks' column ("Following the big money to Harbor Point," Aug. 18) makes me angry. It's people like Mr. Rodricks who hold this city back from any progress. He continually pits rich against poor, black vs. white, to name a few, which only helps perpetuate the attitude that holds Baltimore back from its potential to equal or exceed cities like Washington D.C. or even New York City.

Baltimore needs growth to make itself better. Developers like Michael Beatty who can think out of the box to get projects done are so important to move the city forward (by the way, the "thinning Gordon Gekko hair" comment was not very nice). I don't recall Dan saying anything about Clipper Mill when it benefited from TIF funds.

It is an absolute necessity to offers developers incentives to take the risk. Let's educate citizens about how developers are taking huge risks by borrowing a ton of money in construction loans and debt service after the property is fully delivered. I don't hear enough about how much the ownership entity of Harbor Point will be paying in real estate taxes once the project is stabilized versus the taxes that are collected on that vacant piece of land. How does that vacant land benefit anybody? It won't create jobs, give people green space or give the city more tax dollars.

Bill Struever, another well-known developer, received TIF funds and historic federal and state tax credits to make the many projects like American Can Company, Belvedere Square, Clipper Mill and Tide Point come to fruition. He had the vision and the many talented people he hired under Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse figure out through complicated financing how to get these projects done. They transformed neighborhoods which, in turn, made homes more valuable, retail services viable, schools better (because people actually started volunteering at the local schools so their kids could have a good school) and people actually wanted to move back into the city. These projects are what make a difference in people being able to casually walk their own streets without fearing they are going to get mugged. Commercial property owners dump a lot of money into security to create — more jobs!

I have lived in Baltimore for 25 years. I earned my undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University. I have committed to raising my family here, sending my kids to Baltimore public schools and volunteering my time at the schools and my neighborhood to make the city a better place. I fully support these developers in their task to get necessary infrastructure in place to build new neighborhoods. I'm sure they would even turn to neighborhoods like Little Italy to help them revitalize as well. It would be great, Dan, if you would get off your soapbox and started being a more positive voice for Baltimore.

Monica LaVorgna, Baltimore

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