Listen to the Baltimore Sun's Dan Rodricks and Caroline Moore, CEO of Ekistics, the Baltimore development firm and leader developer of State Center discuss Maryland’s governor, comptroller and treasurer — the state’s Board of Public Works — vote to cancel the $1.5 billion State Center redevelopment plan on mid-town Baltimore’s west side, a project 10 years in the making.
The master plan for Midtown’s aged State Center complex that the Hogan administration voided in 2016 is still a strong deal for Maryland, the city, state employees and surrounding neighborhoods, a new report commissioned by the developer argues.
A new report compiled largely from research performed on the behalf of the state of Maryland shows the proposal to overhaul State Center, according to the developer, isn’t the bad deal opponents of the project have portrayed.
Hogan's State Center report leaves one big question: What will happen to the 3,000 people who work there?
The study considers the commercial potential for a 28 acre site at the intersection of Howard Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard as if the buildings were vacant. It doesn’t consider at all the costs and drawbacks of moving the public employees elsewhere, whether it’s to a new building the state constructs or to existing office space somewhere else. And it most certainly does not consider whether, by pledging to keep them there, the state could drastically improve the market conditions and attract investment on a scale that would otherwise be untenable.
On Tuesday, during a joint hearing of the House of Delegate’s Appropriations and Economic Matters committees, Caroline Moore, the project’s lead developer, and Michael Edney, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, which represents State Center LLC, addressed the study released earlier in the day.
Both were critical of it as an attempt to stall development with a proposal that is years away when State Center LLC’s proposal is essentially shovel-ready. They also contended that their experience in dealing with the state shows Hogan’s catch phrase that the state is “open for business” is nothing but an empty slogan.
Residents in the nine neighborhoods surrounding the development have been involved from the beginning. Starting over from scratch with the new ideas suggested in the study disregards the input the residents have given over the years on what they want to see at the site, John Kyle, president of the State Center Neighborhood Alliance, told the lawmakers.
Lawmakers had no time to read Hogan’s “fresh look” study because he released it only 3 hours before the joint committee hearing took place on Tuesday afternoon. So they couldn’t find out how flimsy the study is or look at the map to discover where State Center is actually located. Thus delegates were all over the map and sometimes not on any map at all, at least not one of Baltimore City.
Speaking to state lawmakers on Tuesday, shortly after the release of a new study on the future redevelopment potential of Baltimore’s State Center complex, developer Caroline Moore blasted the Hogan administration for gutting her firm’s $1.5 billion redevelopment project and commissioning a study whose recommendations were similar to her company’s years-old plan.
The replacement of a plan which had evolved from 15 years of charrettes, community workshops, work of high caliber design firms and planning by actual masterdevelopers with a study stitched together by a Tampa consulting firm ("Exceptional Service, Proven Results") with a hot needle for $79,000 to provide a fig-leaf for a Governor who is intent on undoing whatever his predecessor had done, is doomed to fail, no matter how you look at it. The new study was released Tuesday ahead of a hearing about State Center in Annapolis and is supposed to be "a fresh look" without consideration of anything done before.
Barry Rascovar’s Sept. 4 column about State Center is very misleading. The stakes are high and clarity on details surrounding this project is very important –– particularly as the lack of transparency from the state grows.
Key parts of his tale about a faulty plan, greedy developers, and changing economic circumstances are just not true.
Improved transit and a revitalized State Center could propel Baltimore in important ways. While there are jobs and job centers available in some communities, it’s hard for many people to reach them. The new Baltimore Link system, while well-intentioned, doesn’t come close to offering the coordinated access that is common to great cities around the world. New and affordable technologies like Bus Rapid Transit offer economical and efficient alternatives to railed vehicles and could build on MARC and existing rail lines to transform our economy. And Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh need to make good on their plans to retain state jobs and create transit-oriented development at State Center.