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(Daily Record file photo)

Stadium Square could benefit from casino funds

Caves Valley Partners’ proposed Stadium Square development could benefit from funds generated in part by a casino its executives have a stake in operating.

The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore will generate money used for Community Impact Funds once it opens, and a percentage of those funds are designated to be spent in six communities surrounding the casino. One of those communities is the Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood, where the company has proposed building a $250 million mixed-use development.

“It could be an indirect beneficiary of studies that are done for that impact area, because they’re within that zone and such close proximity [to the casino], but certainly not a direct sort of transfer of funds in anyway,” state Sen. Bill Ferguson said.

He said community impact funds could be used on a variety of projects, such as road improvements or the creation of a small business fund, that could benefit the development. But he also stressed that those projects would serve the community as a whole.

Ferguson is chairman of the Baltimore Casino Local Development Council that makes recommendations for what it would like to see impact funds spent on. The 15 member committee includes seven community members, three elected officials, four members from the business community and a representative from the casino.

After the council makes its recommendations for spending the funds, the mayor gives final approval. The spending will also be guided by a master plan currently being designed by the city’s Department of Planning.

The development council’s year-one proposed spending plan includes recommendations on how to spend an allocation of up to $10 million. The recommended projects include tree planting, an urban design study and lane and traffic signal modifications around the casino.

“I actually think it’s a really great process for determining what the priorities and needs are and how the money should be allocated going forward,” Ferguson said.

Caron Brace, a spokeswoman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also said there’s a “robust” system in place to make sure the funds are spent in a way that benefits the surrounding communities.

“It’s not just, ‘You’re eligible, yes, you get it,’” Brace said.

In an emailed statement, Arsh Mirmiran, a partner at Caves Valley Partners, said it was still in the early stages of the project and that the company was focused on acquiring property needed to build Stadium Square.

“While the project’s location — so close to so many transit options, as well as in a federal HUBZone — offers many unique advantages, we have not yet seen any specific criteria set by Baltimore City in terms of how it intends to spend its casino impact dollars and are not in a position to speak to that process,” Mirmiran said in the statement.