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Top 5: ‘It is attacking sham litigation’

The Bozzuto Group is moving forward with its plan for luxury apartments at Fells Point, and downtown property owners are both alleging that each other’s lawsuit over the State Center is a “sham.” Those stories and more in this week’s business top 5.

1. Bozzuto moving forward with Fells Point luxury apartments – by Melody Simmons

A month after a Fells Point waterfront property was sold by a local developer to the Bozzuto Group for $9.5 million, the builders are moving forward with construction of a 281-unit luxury apartment mixed-use complex this week.

Union Wharf is scheduled for a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning, said Jeff Kayce, a Bozzuto vice president in charge of the Baltimore development, but site development and an environmental cleanup is already underway.

2. Construction expected to begin next month for $184M facility at EBDI – by Melody Simmons

State officials have awarded a $170 million contract to Turner Construction Co. to build a new lab for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at the 88-acre East Baltimore Development Inc. site in Middle East.

Construction is expected to begin next month, said Robert C. Brennan, executive director of the Maryland Economic Development Corp., the state’s development agency, which closed on the sale of state bonds last week to finance the project. The total cost of the new lab is expected to be about $184 million.

3. O’Malley’s land-use plan to move forward – by Nicholas Sohr

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration will move forward with Maryland’s first statewide land-use plan despite calls from opponents on Monday to slow the process or scrap it altogether.

“This is an issue between the legislative branch and the executive branch,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, during a briefing on the plan. “What you have here is the executive branch acting as witness, judge and jury.”

4. State Center foes spar in court – by Nicholas Sohr

A group of downtown property owners sparred with the state in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Wednesday, with attorneys for both sides assailing the other’s lawsuit over the State Center project as a “sham.”

The property owners sued to stop the $1.5 billion development north of center city last year. In August, the Department of General Services filed a countersuit seeking $100 million in damages.

5. Md. tax giveaways divert billions with largely unknown impact – by Nicholas Sohr

Robert L. Higgins plucked four coins from a refrigerator-size safe in the basement of the Baltimore Convention Center and fanned out a small fortune in his hands.

While the face value of the coins would be just enough to buy a sandwich — a cheap one at that — Higgins priced the coins and their 803 combined years of U.S. history at just shy of $1.2 million.