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Controversial Harbor Point Development Approved By City Council

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Council gives final approval to $100 million in taxpayer assistance for a new waterfront development. Supporters say the plan will create thousands of jobs but some see it as nothing but a handout to the developer.

Kai Jackson has more.

Supporters of Harbor Point can claim victory. Critics argue those supporters won by evading the democratic process.

The controversial Harbor Point development has been approved.

“And I’m excited again to be a small part of it and to help move things forward if I can,” said Harbor Point developer Michael Beatty.

The Baltimore City Council voted in favor of the measure Monday night, despite criticism that the project was being funded on the backs of city taxpayers.

“That’s what’s happening at Harbor Point. It is a catalytic project; it is a smart investment that’s gonna create jobs and spur more development,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Harbor Point is a $1.8 billion vision by developer Michael Beatty. Under the plan, energy giant Exelon would locate its headquarters on the 28-acre site. It would also include other office buildings, residential towers, stores and a hotel.

Many Baltimoreans were outraged that the developer is getting $107 million in taxpayer help, a public/private partnership that some believe shortchanges the public.

“That doesn’t deserve taxpayer dollars when we’re raising the water bill on people 15 percent a year and threatening to take their homes,” said Councilman Carl Stokes.

“We’re not taking tax money from any other source in the city of Baltimore to be used to pay for this project,” said Councilman Jim Kraft.

Opponents say it’s not just Harbor Point and the public financing that they oppose. In getting the deal done, some accuse the city of silencing voices and usurping the democratic process.

“To shut down ongoing debate about it so cavalierly, as the council has done, is just reprehensible,” Stokes said.

The mayor says the projected tax revenues will go from the current $244,000 to $19.6 million a year.

City officials say the increased property tax and other taxes could net almost $600 million over 30 years.

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