Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took a victory lap tonight, calling a press conference after the City Council gave final approval of a $107 million TIF financing plan for Harbor Point.
Hailing a “courageous” Council, the mayor said the 27-acre development represented a “fresh start” for the blighted waterfront property whose success will “make every community in Baltimore better.”
Tonight’s vote was a given as the mayor, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and the Beatty Development Group pushed through the financing plan over the heated objections of Carl Stokes, chairman of the Council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee.
Stokes Amendments Voted Down
Stokes tonight introduced three amendments to the legislation – all shot down by his colleagues – calling for $3 million of inclusionary housing at the development, union membership at any future hotel built on the site, and “public transparency, participation and accountability” as the 10-year-long project gets underway.
The accountability amendment did not receive a second motion, and his other amendments received only two votes, from Council members Bill Henry and Sharon Green Middleton.
Michael Beatty, president Beatty Development Group, told reporters he will break ground as soon as possible. His group is under pressure to get construction underway for the Exelon office tower, which is slated to open in mid-2015.
The Harbor Point site – described as the biggest private development in Baltimore’s history – still needs clearance from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Environmental Protection Agency, certifying that breaking the surface cap on the property, laced with chromium tailings, will not increase the risk to human health.
That approval is expected within the next two months, even as environmental concerns about the development mount among some residents of neighboring Fells Point.