Why is State Center project still on hold?

The following article first appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Apr 29, 2015:

Your editorial about State Center, published over a year ago, is still incredibly relevant, and I wanted to bring it back to the forefront of the discussion ("State Center unbound," March 24, 2014).

In March, State Center Neighborhood Alliance, a community organization of the nine neighborhoods that surround the State Center, hosted a happy hour event at Ryleigh's to raise awareness regarding the State Center redevelopment.

Why has this project has been left to languish. Where has the political will gone? Gov. Larry Hogan says that Maryland is "open for business," yet here is a shovel ready project that will bring desperately needed jobs, affordable housing and walkable streets to West Baltimore, an area that has been left stagnant.

Over the past week, we've seen a lot of frustration and anger from West Baltimore. One of the larger questions that needs to be asked is why West Baltimore hasn't benefited from the city's resurgence.

Yes, Harbor East and Canton are nice and shiny, but they're not really for everyone. And when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is trying to attract 10,000 new families to Baltimore why has a project like this been stalled?

State Center was a failed urban renewal project, and now we finally have the chance to correct it. This is a project that will benefit all, not just a privileged few. Peter Angelos and his cronies have been thwarting this project because they think it will take development away from downtown. So let him develop downtown and stop sitting on derelict buildings while doing nothing to improve them.

We in West Baltimore will work to improve our side: To correct past wrongs, to bring much needed development, to reconnect all our neighborhoods, rich and poor, as one community.

Although the revitalization of State Center started under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and was supported by his successor, Gov. Martin O'Malley, we have yet to hear from the present governor, Larry Hogan. We're frustrated by the lack of political leadership regarding this project.

Governor Hogan is new, so perhaps he doesn't know. That is why the SCNA is pushing to hold a series of public meetings. This is also why we're looking to the press for coverage.

Even after our very successful happy hour in March, attended by more than 200 people, including a number of past and present elected officials, we're still struggling to get this project at the top of the agenda.

Sen. Catherine Pugh has said she "absolutely" supports State Center redevelopment, and she met with SCNA to express her support. However, we need all of Baltimore to actively push for this.

Lisa Meyerhardt, Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Seton Hill Association and the State Center Neighborhood Alliance.

Melissa Heuer