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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Another Shoe May Drop On Harbor Point Project

The City Council’s vote cleared the way – mostly -- for what Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake calls the opportunity of a generation – the billion dollar Harbor Point project.

Financial challenges having been heard and disposed of, the developer of Harbor Point now turns to reassuring the neighborhood: It will be perfectly safe, he has said, to drill many holes in a reinforced containment cap to prevent leakage of harmful chromium waste.

The project is to be built on 28 acres of harborside land once occupied by an Allied Signal chromium plant. With clear knowledge that chromium was harmful to humans, a cap was installed to contain what remains of the toxic metal. The question now is whether the cap can be safely perforated by the pilings necessary to anchor a multi-story building. Exelon Corp., the power company, will move its headquarters there. A promenade will be constructed along the waterfront, linking the Inner Harbor with Fells Point.  A handful of new parks would be part of the project.

Various voices, including the mayor’s and the developer’s, insist the project is an opportunity to show that old brownfield sites can be recycled. That would be the city’s hope, given this otherwise highly desirable piece of property on the city’s ring of water-side development.

The city says it will now begin a final assessment of the project. At the same time, the developer, Michael Beatty of Harbor Point Development Group, says he wants to break ground soon.

But another shoe may drop. Downtown property owner and Orioles principal owner Peter Angelos reportedly has been considering a lawsuit.  Just when – or even if he will sue – he has not said.

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