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Judge denies state's motion to dismiss State Center suit

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Althea M. Handy on Wednesday denied a state motion to dismiss a lawsuit over the $1.5 billion State Center proposal, a controversial redevelopment of a state government complex in midtown Baltimore.

Downtown commercial property owners filed the lawsuit against the developer and two state agencies overseeing the state-owned project in December, accusing public officials of failing to comply with procurement laws when they gave developers building rights and negotiated long-term leases for state agencies at above-market rates.

Despite the decision, the developers said Wednesday that they expected to move forward with plans to demolish outdated state offices to make way for a 28-acre mix of new offices, housing and shops.

"We're confident that ultimately the court will confirm that the state acted properly, and the development team was chosen in strict accordance with state law," said Caroline G. Moore, chief executive of Ekistics, the lead developer.

Moving ahead with the lawsuit will allow the plaintiffs "the opportunity to further uncover how and under what circumstances one of the largest state construction projects ever landed in the hands of these developers without competitive bidding," said Alan M. Rifkin, lead council for the plaintiffs.

Lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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