Affordable-housing requirement waived for Superblock

Baltimore's Department of Housing and Community Development has waived the affordable-housing requirement for the Lexington Square "Superblock" project, a development discussed Thursday at a meeting of the City Council's Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee.

The housing department does not have the $9.5 million needed to subsidize the construction of 59 affordable apartments in the mixed-use development slated for the intersection of Lexington and Howard streets, according to a memo from Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano.

For the development to receive tax breaks from the city, the Superblock's developers needed to make 20 percent of any new housing units affordable for households with incomes between 30 percent and 120 percent of Baltimore's median income.

The city is required to offset any costs that those affordable units placed on the developer, which Graziano says is not possible.

The project's developer, Lexington Square Partners LLC, has volunteered to provide 12 affordable housing units, which will not be subsidized by the city. Ten of the units will be for households making 80 percent of the city's average income, and two will be for households bringing in 60 percent of that figure.

The taxation committee is expected to vote on the Superblock's tax break next month, after a profit-sharing agreement is established with the developer, said Councilman Carl Stokes, the committee's chair.

Kim Clark, acting head of the Baltimore Development Corp., declined to provide details about the profit-sharing agreement.

The Superblock's cost has been estimated at roughly $150 million. The developer plans to put $35 million of cash equity into the project, said Harold Dawson Jr., a representative of Lexington Square Partners.

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