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Baltimore seeks buyer for Westside parking lots

(The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

These city-owned parking lots in Baltimore’s Westside are up for sale. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Baltimore’s quasi-public economic development agency is again seeking buyers for two municipally owned surface parking lots on downtown’s Westside.

The Baltimore Development Corp. issued a request for proposals for the lots at 410 and 422 W. Mulberry St. A spokeswoman said this was in response to an unsolicited bid for the properties. The combined parking lots total more than 19,500 square feet in size.

“The properties fall within the Market Center Urban Renewal Plan area and are eligible for Enterprise Zone and City-wide High Performance Market Rate Rental Housing tax credits. The site may also be eligible for Brownfields Tax Credits,” according to the request.

Back in February of 2014, the corporation issued a request for proposals on these parking lots, along with a host of other city-owned properties on the Westside. The city received a bid for the lots and the additional properties, according to the spokeswoman, “but it did not move forward.”

A lot has changed in the more than three years since the city last unsuccessfully sought buyers for these lots.

Developer Caves Valley Partners purchased the massive vacant Metro West complex at auction in 2016 for $7.1 million. Despite the developer being tight-lipped about its plans for Metro West, the city-owned parking lots are just blocks from the complex. Momentum created by private investment in the area substantially increases the viability of building on those lots.

Further increasing the potential interest in the lots is the city’s pursuit of a total overhaul of the historic Lexington Market, which is just south of the city-owned parking lots. The market in its current configuration is viewed as a hindrance to investment and development on the Westside. Baltimore has released plans and renderings that call for the demolition and rebuilding of the market, which is expected to cost roughly $40 million.

For years the city has been trying to reinvigorate downtown’s Westside. The area was once Baltimore’s shopping district but has fallen on hard times as the stores that once provided the area’s vitality followed their customers out to the suburbs.

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