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Stokes Wants Perkins Homes Residents To Get A Piece Of Harbor Point Deal

Elkus Manfredi Architects
courtesy of Beatty Development

The developers of the controversial Harbor Point project in southeast Baltimore stand to save a projected $88 million in property taxes over 10 years because they are building in an enterprise zone. City Councilman Carl Stokes wants part of that money to benefit the residents of Perkins Homes, a nearby public housing development.  Stokes is sponsoring a resolution calling for 30 percent—about $26 million--of that figure to go into a fund to pay for after school programs, job training and other programs at the project.

The state enterprise zone program uses property and income tax credits to encourage businesses to move into economically depressed areas to stimulate new development. Stokes claims that the enterprise zone boundaries were drafted to include Perkins Homes as well as Harbor Point so the project could qualify. “The poverty of the residents of Perkins Square has been used to qualify for the Enterprise Zone credits,” he said last month.

But a spokesperson for the state Department of Business and Economic Development, said that Perkins Homes, as well as other residential areas, was removed from the enterprise zone in 2012. The Harbor Point property also was removed but was reinstated in January.

Baltimore Development Corporation has urged the council not to support Stokes’ resolution saying it may scare off future development in the enterprise zone.  Corporation president Brenda McKenzie said there was no gerrymandering involved in drafting the enterprise zone.  “The portion of the downtown area which includes Harbor Point, is an area that was viewed as a high growth potential in terms of jobs,” McKenzie said.

She said that enterprise zone boundaries are routinely updated based on census data and that developers can apply for adjustments as well. Stokes chairs the committee that will hear his resolution as well as a trio of bills involving Harbor Point project, including $107 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the project. The city would float bonds for infrastructure projects, including an improved Central Avenue bridge and parks, and use the property taxes from the development to pay them off.

Harbor Point will be home to Exelon’s Baltimore headquarters; fulfilling a promise to the Maryland Public Service Commission as part of the company’s merger with Constellation Energy. 

The city council hearing is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.