$18 million deal approved for Barclay revitalization

Baltimore Sun
By Luke Broadwater

Board of Estimates also approves $11 million for new offices for prosecutors

7:59 PM EDT, October 10, 2012

The city's spending panel approved an $18 million loan agreement on Wednesday to turn hundreds of vacant houses and lots in North and East Baltimore into new and rehabbed homes.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the development will breathe new life into the neighborhoods of Barclay, Midway and Old Goucher "after years of neglect."

City housing officials chose Telesis Corp. in 2006 to build about 325 rental units and owner-occupied homes in neighborhoods between Charles Village and Station North. The $85 million plan, which could take a decade to complete, targets city-owned vacant and rundown rowhouses and lots for redevelopment. The funding approved Wednesday will help build the second phase of the project, officials said.

The company has completed 80 homes in the area.

"The goal is to try to bring in fresh blood and place them in good houses," said Brad Schlegel, who handles public relations for the Barclay-Midway-Old Goucher Coalition. "These houses are very well built, and the rehabs are even nicer. People who drive through will see good things happening."

Much of the $18 million deal — $13 million — comes in the form of tax incentives from a federal low-income housing program. PNC Bank is contributing $1.2 million and the state and city about $2 million each in loans.

In other action, the Board of Estimates approved a more than $11 million, 10-year lease for new offices for the Baltimore City state's attorney's office in downtown Baltimore.

The city will pay landlord FSP East Baltimore LLC to rent 65,000 square feet on five floors of 2 N. Calvert Street to house the city's prosecutors. The annual rent on the property will begin at $1 million and rise over time to $1.4 million, according to the agreement.

Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, who took office in January 2011, has pushed to get new offices for his approximately 200 employees, who are now housed in the downtown courthouses. Prosecutors complain the offices are cramped and in disrepair.

Bernstein pitched the idea of a move to lawmakers at a February meeting, saying it was "an issue of public safety and being efficient in our operations."

Both items passed by unanimous vote without discussion.