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Week in review: 4/27/12

Superblock firm gets extension

City officials Wednesday have given developers of the $150 million Superblock project on downtown’s West Side until Dec. 31 to line up financing and retail tenants. This is the second extension for the firm, Lexington Square Partners LLC, of New York and Atlanta, which says it’s negotiating with an anchor tenant. The City Council is considering a 20-year tax break for the project under a PILOT program, or payment in lieu of taxes.

Fracking panel wants delay

The state’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has asked Gov. Martin O’Malley to extend the August deadline for its next update in view of the General Assembly’s failure to fund a scientific study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process by which natural gas is extracted by drilling into shale. O’Malley asked the commission in 2011 to determine the environmental impacts of drilling in Garrett and Allegany counties. Its final report is due in August 2014.

Drug firms cross swords

Human Genome Sciences Inc., the biotechnology company that spurned a $2.59 billion acquisition offer from GlaxoSmithKline Plc, said the bid undervalues the sales potential of one of its leading products, Benlysta, but Glaxo said it sees no need to raise its offer. Human Genome’s CEO said the lupus medicine has “blockbuster potential”; Glaxo’s CEO shot back with: “I don’t subscribe to the view that deals are always going to get done at higher prices. Let’s see what happens.”

1st Mariner reports profit

1st Mariner Bancorp made $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2012, the first time the Baltimore-based institution showed a quarterly profit in five years. First Mariner has been beset with capital concerns, but Mark A. Keidel, the bank’s interim chief executive officer, said he was encouraged by the results, commenting: “Overall economic conditions in our market have improved as unemployment levels eased and values of homes and commercial properties appear to have stabilized.”

New stadium for Hagerstown?

A feasibility study by Pikesville-based Ripken Design of a proposed outdoor multipurpose sports and events center in downtown Hagerstown has concluded that such a facility would create 312 new jobs and generate roughly $44.5 million in economic impact over the first decade. Hagerstown is trying to prevent Winchester, Va., from becoming the home of the current Hagerstown Suns minor-league baseball team.

Court limits DNA collection

The Court of Appeals has dealt a near-knockout blow to a state law that permits police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a violent crime or attempting to commit one. In a 5-2 decision that reversed a cold-case rape conviction, it said the 2008 Maryland DNA Collection Act passes constitutional muster only when collecting a genetic sample is the only way police can identify the suspect for that arrest. Other purposes, such as comparing the DNA sample to evidence from unsolved crimes, violate the protection against warrantless searches. The state may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Weich named dean of UB Law

The new dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law is Ronald Weich, whose background is in politics and government. He has worked as the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in the Department of Justice since President Barack Obama appointed him in 2009. Weich was chosen from five finalists and will start at the law school the first week of July, almost a year after former Dean Phillip J. Closius resigned.

MoCo transit panel readies report

(AP) A Montgomery County task force said a rapid bus network there would cost about $1.83 billion to build and another $1.1 million per mile each year to operate. The Washington Examiner reported that the Transit Task Force wants the system running in nine years. The panel appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett recommends a “world class,” 161.5-mile bus rapid transit network along 23 major county thoroughfares. It would be built in three phases. The task force suggests paying for the system with a combination of property taxes and county and state contributions. The recommendations will be formally presented to Leggett this week.