www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-state-center-hearing-20130115,0,2651384.story

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Decision will arrive this week on State Center trial

Judge says she intends to rule soon whether trial, scheduled for August, is necessary

By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

7:58 PM EST, January 15, 2013

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A Baltimore judge said Tuesday that she will soon decide whether a lawsuit about the proposed $1.5 billion redevelopment of State Center should go to trial.

At the end of several hours of arguments regarding whether the two sides agree about the facts of the case, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Althea M. Handy told attorneys she intends to rule on the state's summary judgment motion before the end of the week.

If Handy does not rule in the state's favor, and unless the parties come to a settlement, a trial will be necessary to determine the merits of allegations made in 2010 by downtown landlords and business owners.

They claim Maryland officials used a noncompetitive process to select developers for the transformation of state agencies' massive midtown campus into a mixed-use complex. They're also concerned that a new home for state employees farther north would siphon business from downtown.

Last month, a trial was tentatively scheduled for early August.

Attorneys for the state on Tuesday told Handy that she has all the information she needs to rule on the case and a trial is not necessary. The contracts at issue in the case, they claim, are not subject to the state procurement law's requirements.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Alan M. Rifkin, argued that Handy needs to look beyond the text of the contracts to determine whether they should have been subject to procurement requirements.

"This case concerns the conduct of the agencies, not just their contracts," Rifkin said.

Part of landlords' and business owners' case against the state are allegations government officials improperly replaced members of the development team several years ago.

In court, Rifkin referred to correspondence by state officers and members of the development team that suggested they thought the replacement could become problematic.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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