Why Baltimore needs a new State Center

The following article first appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Aug 10, 2016:

Regarding the recent letter to the editor "State Center is a boondoggle" (Aug 2):

In an attempt to stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods in West Baltimore during the 1950s, the Maryland developed the State Center campus, a poorly planned office park that failed to take into account the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Over time the buildings have deteriorated and state employees have been left to work in substandard conditions. The proposed project will update the aging office buildings while providing a link between Midtown-Belvedere and West Baltimore.

Your letter writers questioned whether the surrounding communities were supporting the project and whether only the leaders of those communities were pro-development.

I would like to ease those concerns. The impact of the project on surrounding communities was taken into consideration, and the "100 people" who signed the letter are only a subset of all those who will be affected.

As a resident of Heritage Crossing and the vice president of the Heritage Crossing Community Home Owners Association, I can say without reservation that my community is fully behind the State Center redevelopment. Nor can I imagine that Heritage Crossing is the only community that is fully supporting this project.

The redevelopment project will greatly benefit the neighboring communities by opening more options to those who live nearby. This development will provide commercial conveniences that are currently not readily available. It will also provide job opportunities to those in the community.

The Red Line would have been a valuable resource to Baltimore City and the surrounding counties, but the redevelopment of the State Center is even more valuable. If brought to fruition, it will keep state jobs in the city and add additional jobs in the commercial sector.

A full build out is projected to create 9,000 construction-related jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. These jobs will provide the city with an additional tax base.

Other areas in Baltimore have been given the opportunity to grow and improve (Federal Hill, Canton, Harbor East, Locust Point, Charles Center and Port Covington, to name a few).

The Midtown-Belvedere West Baltimore neighborhoods have been trying to make changes for more than a decade without success. It is truly time to give every part of the city an opportunity to grow.

Shellie G. Phillips, Baltimore

Melissa Heuer