Candidates target public subsidies, modular housing on upswing, tidbits and more

One of the targets at a Democratic mayoral forum sponsored by BUILD Thursday night was giving public subsidies to wealthy developers to help in local economic development. You know, like the subsidies given or promised to developers John Paterakis, William C. “Bill” Struever and Patrick Turner, to name a few, for projects including the Marriott Waterfront, Clipper Mill and Westport, respectively. All are located in chic and shabby chic parts of town – and have gotten millions of dollars in tax breaks. Paterakis, for example, cut a deal with the Baltimore Development Corp. to pay just $1 in property taxes on the glittering waterfront hotel property for 25 years. Those who packed the pews of stately St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church wanted answers on the use of tax increment financing, or TIF, and payments in lieu of taxes, commonly known as a PILOT. “When are we going to hear about the TIF that will spur uptown development?” asked Rev. Andrew Foster-Connors, pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church and a co-chair of the grassroots, clergy-led group, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. BUILD sought pledges from the four candidates who attended its “accountability session,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, Catherine Pugh and Otis Rolley III. They pinned them down on a proposal to form a community investment fund if elected that would match dollar for dollar all public subsidies spent on downtown development in a neighborhood growth fund for the city’s communities, many impoverished and pockmarked by blight and vacancies. All said they would. But how?

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