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The Dripby Mark Reutter8:05 amAug 7, 20130

Fells Point group withdraws its backing of Harbor Point

Takes no position on $107 million in TIF tax subsidies on eve of City Council hearing today.

The Fell’s Point Residents Association withdrew its tacit support of the Harbor Point development, but did not take a position on the project’s $107 million in TIF tax increment subsidies.

“The group was split evenly on the TIF and unable to present a reasonable position until it has significantly more information about its fiscal impact on the city,” Arthur Perschetz, association president, said after the group met last night to re-evaluate the project on the eve of a City Council hearing today.

Previously, the group voted to “not oppose” Harbor Point (the group does not “support” any project, Perschetz explained, but instead decides whether to “oppose” or “not oppose”).

Traffic Study Requested

The group, which holds considerable sway with City Councilman James B. Kraft, whose district encompasses both Fells Point and Harbor Point, called on the city to conduct a traffic study of the development’s impact on traffic in the area.

“We are concerned that we facing a potential catastrophe” in handling thousands of more vehicles coming to and going from the 27-acre development isolated on the west side of Fells Point, Perschetz said.

As presently configured, the project will include an estimated 1.6 million square feet of office space, 914,000 square feet of residential space, 195,000 square feet of retail space, a 220,000 square foot hotel, and 1.2 million square feet of public parking.

The city is planning to build a bridge to connect Harbor Point with Harbor East on Central Avenue, but much of the new traffic would be concentrated along Caroline and Thames streets, spilling into Fells Point.

Hazardous Wastes Contained?

The community group also expressed concern about the environmental impacts of the project. The complex would be largely constructed atop a contained and capped ex-chromium-processing factory.

During the public session of last night’s meeting, several residents expressed concern that piercing the cap with hundreds of pilings for the high-rise buildings would disturb the toxic chemicals buried in the soil and release particles in the air.

Marco Greenberg, senior officer for developer Michael Beatty, said he was “100% confident” that there would be no problems with pile-driving because of the close monitoring of the project by environmental regulators and Honeywell International, which is liable for any hazardous discharges at the property in perpetuity.

The Thames Street Wharf building was erected near the containment cap several years ago, Greenberg noted, and no chromium fumes were detected by air monitors.

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