After City Hall protests and second-guessing by community groups, the City Council has approved $107 million in tax increment financing for the Harbor Point development.
With the TIF, the city will issue bonds to pay for the development’s infrastructure, including utilities, streets, waterfront promenade and a portion of the Central Ave. bridge. About $60 million of the TIF will be allocated to 9.5 acres of public park space, including a 5-acre central plaza.
For its $107 million investment, the city plans to be paid back with the increased tax revenue of the developed site.
In the weeks leading up to the Council’s approval of the TIF Monday evening, different groups in the city debated the wisdom and fairness of awarding $107 million in financing to Beatty Development to build Harbor Point.
After a debate between Marco Greenberg, vice president of Beatty Development, and Ron Kreitner, a former city planner and state planning director, and now executive director of Westside Renaissance, the Fell’s Point Residents Association withdrew letters of non-opposition to the project last week.
FPRA President Arthur Perschetz said that association members who attended the meeting were split exactly evenly between being for or against the TIF. He added that FPRA doesn’t explicitly approve projects, hence the prior “non-opposition” rather than approval. Perschetz also added that withdrawing non-opposition does not equate to opposing the project, either.
At the City Council hearing on Monday, 1st District Councilman Jim Kraft voted in favor of the TIF financing. He has said that he supports Harbor Point because the community organizations in his district support it.
Recently, the Downtown Management Authority, an organization interested in the vitalization of downtown Baltimore, released a detailed statement opposing the TIF.
The largest tenant of Harbor Point is Excelon, an energy provider that purchased Baltimore’s Constellation Energy last year.
by Erik Zygmont