'Superblock' lawsuit dismissed; project to move forward

A Baltimore judge dismissed Friday a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by the former developers of the "Superblock" that alleged the city illegally terminated their exclusive rights to build on the property.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Pamela J. White threw out the $50 million suit, saying the city properly ended its deal with Lexington Square Partners when its contract for the land expired.

"The mayor is happy we can finally move forward with a key development project on the west side," said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "We look forward to issuing a new [request for proposals] soon."

An attorney for Lexington Square Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

Lexington Square Partners alleged that they spent more than $7 million in their six-year effort to develop the site and were on the verge of securing financing to move ahead when city officials halted the project. Citing numerous delays and city-approved extensions on the project, Rawlings-Blake declined last June to grant the developers another extension to come up with financing for the $152 million project.

White ruled that the mayor's decision was appropriate because the city's contract with Lexington Square Partners ended on June 30 of last year. The "agreement terminated on its own," White wrote.

The city entered into a sales agreement with Lexington Square Partners in 2007 after the group won the right several years earlier to develop the property. But the project was slowed by litigation, and it wasn't until December 2012 that the development was awarded $22.1 million in tax breaks, which Lexington Square Partners said it needed to secure financing.

The tax breaks were awarded after the Maryland Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, who argued that the plan failed to preserve historic buildings.

The site is bounded roughly by Lexington, Howard and Fayette streets and Park Avenue. Under the plan, the project would have had about 300 apartments, more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and a parking garage for 650 vehicles.

Rawlings-Blake has said she is considering breaking up the site into smaller plots of land where multiple developers could build.



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