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Poppleton incentive package passed to full City Council

As expected, a legislative package allowing for $58.3 million in public money for a proposed mixed-use development in Poppleton is headed for the full Baltimore City Council.

On Thursday, the council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee approved moving the bill out of committee with a 3-0 vote. The bill moves forward without a recommendation from the committee because there were only three council members present, the minimum for a quorum, which is not enough to give the bill a favorable recommendation.

Councilman Carl Stokes, the committee chairman, said he expects the bill to be voted on by the full council for second reader on Monday, and to eventually be approved by the council and sent to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for her signature.

“It’s moving forward, and it hits the floor Monday and I expect it to pass,” Stokes said.

The incentive package received a committee hearing last month, and following that hearing Stokes told La Cité Development President Daniel Bythewood Jr. the bill would pass out of committee at the next hearing.

New York-based La Cité, in partnership with Flaherty & Collins Properties, intends to build the project in phases. The development will eventually consist of 1,633 housing units and 52,000 square feet of commercial space at a cost of about $460 million. The first sub-phase involves building 257 rental units and 19,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space with 52 units set aside as affordable housing.

Despite voting the bill on to the full council, Stokes reiterated that he opposes the public financing of the project. He said he supports the development, but development should be encouraged by an across-the-board property tax cut rather than using incentives such as Tax Increment Financing.

Stokes, who has been a consistent critic of development incentives, said using those method of financing is inefficient. The Tax Increment Financing on this project, which uses bond money to make associated infrastructure improvements, involves issuing bonds for $12.2 million in the first phase of the project.

But only $8.5 million of that goes toward infrastructure improvements, while nearly a third is spent on administrative costs. Infrastructure improvements in Poppleton are necessary, Stokes argues, but he also said it would be cheaper for the city to pay them through the capital budget.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.