Baltimore’s City Council gave the green light Sept. 9 to one of the final –and most expensive—elements of the development of the city’s Inner Harbor, approving planned groundbreaking in October of Harbor Point in an 11-to-3 vote.
The council action, taken over the objections of longtime opponents of urban development in the now-unoccupied area, is to result in a $100 million project—1.8 million square feet of office space, more than one million square feet of residential property and 9.3 acres of public space—on land that sits between Harbor East and Fells Point.
“I am pleased that the city council has approved the authorization of TIFF bonds, required to move the Harbor Point project forward,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said during a post-vote news conference of the municipal finance instruments that are to be the primary funding source of the project.
“The TIFF bonds will pay for much needed public infrastructures—streets, lighting, utilities as well as public parks—all things that do not exist today,” she said.
Blake insisted this is a “great project” however, city activists didn’t agree.
“I am opposed to everything they do,” Kim Truehart told the AFRO.
Trueheart said the money being spent on the million dollar project could be used elsewhere and that the Harbor Point development “does not deal with the economic blight that the community is facing.”
Throughout the meeting and leading up to the reading of the bill, Truehart and others who are against the development stood—refusing to take their seat—which City Council President Jack Young request several times.
“This is a foul place,” Trueheart yelled prior to be escorted out by city police. Others consented.
Another heckler stood and yelled at Young: “I turned my back on you because you have turned your back on citizens of Baltimore.”
He stood during the remainder of the meeting, with his back turned on city officials. He spoke to no one.
Michael Beatty, Harbor Point developer tried to address some of the concerns and questions.
“People will look on it as a great start to continued development in Baltimore,” he said.
Beatty—standing alongside Rawlings-Blake, Young and other supporters—said this has been a challenging process to get through. “We need to move forward and build a project that is really great for Baltimore,” he said. “To continue to be thoughtful with how to work with our communities, how to do as much as we can.”
“This will keep our city going, and keep it going in the right direction,” Beatty said.
“This process has been vetted more than any project that have ever stepped foot in this council,” Young said during the post-vote news conference. “I think we heard everyone loud and clear.”
“We expect these jobs to be for Baltimore City residents,” he said.
Harbor Point is the first project under Young’s bill. “I think this is going to be a wonderful project and I stand behind it 100 percent,” Young said.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs is what I said from the beginning. If you get people working, you will see less crime,” he concluded.
The Harbor Point project was passed in August during a preliminary vote.