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Rawlings-Blake: State Center remains top redevelopment goal

State Center (submitted rendering)

State Center (submitted rendering)

The long-delayed redevelopment of State Center is the next major project Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants tackled as part of efforts to revitalize Baltimore’s core.

While celebrating Caves Valley Partners’ purchase of the Metro West Complex — a vacant 1 million-square-foot office portfolio hindering Westside revitalization efforts — the mayor said State Center should be handled next.

“State Center is another prime example of something that could be an amazing transformation and that impacts even more neighborhoods,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But what I’ll say is I don’t think that the state is blind to the needs of redevelopment in that area.”

Proposals to overhaul the State Center campus date back to 2005. But a prolonged legal battle over the procurement process for selecting a lead developer delayed the redevelopment.

Approvals allow State Center LLC to build 2 million square feet of office space, 2,000 residential units and 250,000 square feet of retail. The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion.

The state and developer are in mediation over the project, which is dependent on the state leasing office space. A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan said the administration remain committed to the redevelopment but wants to make sure the state isn’t stuck with lease agreements that harm Maryland’s bond rating.

“While it is impossible to predict where the negotiations will lead, one thing is certain: Governor Hogan is fully committed to the redevelopment of the State Center site, and the administration is eager to move forward with a plan that will transform this part of west Baltimore, creating jobs and additional economic development in the city,” the statement reads.

Rawlings-Blake also hinted that an announcement regarding another major piece of the revitalization of the  city’s west side will be coming next month.

During the event Wednesday, she said the city is preparing to make an announcement about plans for the redevelopment of Lexington Market, which is just south of Metro West Complex.

Last year a consultant issued a series of recommendations on how to improve the market. The proposals run the gamut from a complete physical overhaul of the market to simply making interior vendor stalls lower and closer to customers. Since then, Lexington Market Inc. has hired an architecture firm and construction management company as a prelude to improvements being made to the market, which dates back to 1782.

Revitalizing the historic market is considered to be a major step in providing stability in the area connecting the University of Maryland, Baltimore with the thriving portion of the Central Business District east of Charles Street.

Rawlings-Blake credited the work both the city and the university have done through the UniverCity Partnership for bringing new development to the area.

“I was standing here thinking about where we were when my administration started in 2010. People had given up on the west side. There was so much frustration because … there was a lot of talk about what could happen on the west side of Baltimore but nothing was happening,” Rawlings-Blake said.


About Adam Bednar

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