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Editorial: EBDI, part deux

The Baltimore City Council grilled the leaders of East Baltimore Development Inc. again last week, still looking for answers about the lagging $1.8 billion redevelopment project near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

CEO Christopher Shea had more answers than he did at the first hearing on March 30, called after The Daily Record’s five-part series on the 10-year-old development’s lack of progress despite an enormous expenditure of public and private funds.

Shea assured council members that EBDI is working to “bring the middle class back” to East Baltimore and said that so far its efforts have produced $12.5 million in “wealth equity” for community residents.

Yet some council members and community activists were not satisfied with what they heard.

Citing Shea’s statistics that EBDI has created 759 permanent jobs over the 10-year life of the project — 181 going to East Baltimore residents — Jermaine Jones of Baltimore Churches & Community United asked, “We’re talking about 10 years and $564 million spent and only 180 permanent jobs in 10 years?”

Councilman Carl Stokes said of the data presented by Shea, “So far, we’re encouraged by the numbers we’ve heard tonight. But in no way do we accept what we hear tonight.”

And well they shouldn’t. True, there is more activity now at the 88-acre site, but the future direction and timetable for the massive project remain unclear. And so does the future of the community around it.