Baltimore is looking for new proposals to develop properties that were once part of the long-delayed Superblock project.
The Baltimore Development Corp., on behalf of the city, Monday released a request for proposals to purchase and redevelop 27 city-owned properties at Lexington and Howard streets in the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District.
The request for proposal comes a week after Maryland’s highest court declined to hear an appeal that Baltimore violated its $152 million land disposition agreement with Lexington Square Partners LLC by terminating the contract while the developer was trying to secure financing for the project.
“The Lexington-Howard Street corridor is a vital area of revitalization within the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District,” William H. Cole, president and CEO of the BDC, said in a news release. “Redevelopment of these properties into vibrant mixed-use projects with active storefronts and other ground-level uses will continue the momentum resulting from investment and activity in the surrounding areas.”
Lower courts previously ruled the city was in its rights to terminate the contract because of a provision in the land disposition agreement that gave the city that option if financing wasn’t secure and an agreement with Baltimore wasn’t reached. The city had granted the developer five extensions to secure fundraising.
In June 2013, the city decided against granting the Atlanta- and New York-based partnership another extension. That September the developer filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and seeking $57 million in damages. The lawsuit dragged on as the city tried to find developers for other city-owned properties in that section of the city.
“Moving forward with redevelopment of this site is critical to progress on the Westside,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statment. “I have been committed to moving the Westside forward, despite others who keep trying to slow the progress; and this offers a real opportunity to build on the momentum that all of us have seen through our partnership with Dr. Perman and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.” (Jay A. Perman is president of UMBC.)
In recent years the city has aggressively sought to develop land along downtown’s West Side.
Last week the city’s spending board approved the sale of properties on what is known as the Liberty Clay Marion site on the West Side to developers for $300,000. The city issued a request for proposals for that site in February 2014. Earlier this summer the city selected Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects for architectural, engineering and specialty consulting services for a planned $26.7 million overhaul of the nearby historic Lexington Market.
Enterprise Homes also broke ground on the $22.3 million Mulberry Park Apartments this summer while Washington Baltimore Development Group has proposed a 15-story, mixed-use building in the 300 block of Howard Street.