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Mobtown Beat

Enterprise Zone of contention

"Impoverished" Harbor Point approved for tax breaks

Photo: Mel Guapo, License: N/A

Mel Guapo

Impoverished


A City Council committee voted Sept. 5 to approve “Enterprise Zone” status for John Paterakis’ latest development, the $1.5 billion Harbor Point. The federal EZ designation, originally conceived to help impoverished inner cities attract new jobs and industry, is worth an estimated $150 million in tax breaks to the development planned for the ritziest part of downtown. Protestors mocked the EZ application at the last committee meeting on August 8 (“Paterakis looks for EZ money in ‘impoverished’ Harbor East,” Mobtown Beat, Aug. 15), but this time, Acting Baltimore Development Corp. President Kim Clark explained that because the state would make up some of the difference, the city would forgo just $53 million in tax revenue while the project would generate an additional $143 million in tax revenue for the city over the EZ’s 10-year lifespan. She did not specify where the state would get the money.

“But it no longer meets the criteria for the zone,” Councilman Carl Stokes (D-12th District), the committee chair, said. Clark then explained that under the EZ eligibility rules, chunks of poverty can be gerrymandered into the zone to offset the affluence of the targeted block. “It still applies,” she told Stokes. “We’re not making this up.”

Councilman James Kraft, whose 1st District includes the development, asked to amend the map to cut off one valuable parcel and add the H&S Warehouses along Central Avenue and Eden Street below Bank Street. The amendments passed and the bill advanced over Stokes’ “no vote” to Second Reader. The full City Council advanced it again at the Sept. 12 meeting.

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