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Federal judge grants Poppleton project reprieve

A federal judge on Friday stopped Baltimore's housing agency from terminating an agreement with a private developer that wants to revitalize 14 acres of West Baltimore.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett issued a preliminary injunction that prevents Baltimore Housing from ending its relationship with La Cite Development LLC, a New York-based developer that contracted with the city in 2006 to build residences and commercial space in run-down blocks of the Poppleton neighborhood.

The city alleges that the La Cite-controlled company Poppleton Development I LLC has defaulted on its obligations under the six-year-old agreement. La Cite failed to secure financing for the project's first phase, the city told the company in a May letter.

La Cite countered, saying it was the city's failure to acquire clear title to all the properties in the development footprint, among other faults by Baltimore, that prevented financing from being locked down. The developer brought a lawsuit to stop Baltimore from walking away.

Bennett, who stated in a written opinion that he believed the developer would likely win the argument if a trial were held, issued the injunction after an all-day evidentiary hearing where seven witnesses testified, said Charles S. Fax, a Bethesda-based attorney representing the developer.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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