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City OKs state funds for EBDI acquisitions

Baltimore’s spending board approved Wednesday the transfer of $4.3 million in state capital funds to an account used to pay for property acquisition, demolition and infrastructure upgrades that are part of East Baltimore Development Inc.’s urban renewal project.

The city fronts the funds to capitalize the East Baltimore Redevelopment account and is later reimbursed through a capital budget appropriation after the city shows proof of expenditures, EBDI said.

“Although everybody believes EBDI … is doing all the acquisition, in fact the city of Baltimore does the acquisition, and pays for it with these funds directly to whoever they buy the property from,” said Chris Shea, EBDI’s president and CEO.

Vacant rowhouses

This undated file photo shows vacant, blighted rowhouses considered for demolition and redevelopment in east Baltimore.

The capital budget appropriations, which may have been backed up during the course of several years, reimburse Baltimore for funds used to help purchase 2,000 properties, pay for between 1,400 and 1,500 demolitions, and new infrastructure such as new sewers and lighting in the 88-acre area.

For more than a decade EBDI, through a mix of private and public investment, has been working to improve the distressed neighborhoods surrounding the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital complex.

Project goals include turning the area into a mixed-income residential community that includes retail space, a research park and recreation opportunities.

Although the project has been criticized for its pace of progress in the past, there have been recent developments on the project, such as the opening of the Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School building in the 2100 block of Ashland Avenue earlier this month.