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Top 5: ‘This tool may be a double-edge sword’

Tax increment financing in the district surrounding Harbor Point could change just as Exelon Corp. prepares to build its Baltimore headquarters there. McCormick & Co. Inc. also announced this week they will be opening a retail store at the Light Street Pavilion this summer. Those stories and more in this week’s business top 5.

1. Lawsuit filed to void state lab construction contract at EBDI – by Melody Simmons

A lawsuit seeking to void the $170 million construction contract awarded for a new state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene lab at the East Baltimore Development Inc. site was filed Monday as plaintiffs charge that the contract was awarded to Turner Construction Co. without competitive bidding.

The 82-page suit was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court against the state Department of General Services, DGS Assistant Secretary Michael Gaines, the Maryland Economic Development Corp., Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership LLC and Turner Construction by Arnold M. Jolivet, his wife, JoAnn, the Maryland Minority Contractors Association Inc., and JCM Control Systems Inc., a minority-owned business based in Baltimore County. Jolivet is managing director of the contractors association.

2. Exelon’s $250M Harbor Point project to include retail and residences – by Melody Simmons

Exelon Corp.’s new building on the city’s waterfront in Harbor Point will be part of a $250 million development and will attract about 4,500 permanent jobs, company officials said Wednesday.

Details of the project were unveiled Wednesday by Exelon executives and the developer, Harbor East Development Group LLC, less than a week after the energy giant announced it planned to build a tower reaching up to 20 stories on a 27-acre tract that once held the AlliedSignal chemical plant.

3. Changes to Harbor Point TIF district proposed – by Melody Simmons

In the wake of Exelon Corp.’s decision to locate its Baltimore headquarters at Harbor Point, the city’s development agency is seeking to fast-track consideration of broadening the scope of a 27-acre tax increment financing district there approved a year ago.

The move is part of sweeping changes proposed for Harbor Point that include the $120 million building and a new roadway and bridge crossing over Central Avenue and linking the now cobblestone street to the headquarters, Baltimore Development Corp. officials said Friday.

4. McCormick to launch first retail store at Inner Harbor – by Maria Zilberman

Sparks-based McCormick and Co. Inc. is venturing into retail, launching its first store this summer in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace.

The “McCormick World of Flavors” 3,800-plus square foot-center will showcase the company’s products as well as hold cooking demonstrations by McCormick’s chefs and celebrity chefs using the firm’s products. There will be a gift shop and interactive family activities, such as finding your personal flavor profile and tracking the origin of spices.

5. TIF use could grow in Maryland with new legislation – by Melody Simmons

Legislation to expand the use of tax increment financing in certain growth areas of the state is expected to be introduced in the General Assembly next week, according to Jon Laria, chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.

During a hearing before the House Environmental Matters Committee on Tuesday, Laria said the bill would allow for “more tools in the toolkit” to attract development and help promote smart growth with TIFs.