Harbor Point development district wins city committee approval

A Baltimore City Council committee approved a plan to create a development district encompassing Harbor Point, clearing the way for $155 million in tax breaks for a project spearheaded by bakery and development magnate John Paterakis Sr.

Councilman Carl Stokes, who was recently appointed head of the taxation and finance committee, voted against the measure, but three other council members voted for it.

The full council is slated to vote on the development district next week. If the designation is approved, it will pave the way for the city to issue bonds to pay for water pipes, roads and other infrastructure for the $800 million project, a financial incentive known as tax increment financing.

City development officials say the project requires assistance because the site — which contains poisonous chromium covered by a concrete cap — will present construction challenges. Harbor Point, sandwiched between Fells Point and Harbor East, is the former site of the Allied Signal chromium plant.

But Stokes raised concerns about tax increment financing, which enables the city to borrow money based on projected increases in property tax payments that come with development. He plans to announce a task force this month to analyze the benefits of the incentive.

"We do need to step back and see how we are spending our dollars," Stokes said. He said he had concerns about the next proposal for tax-increment financing slated to come before his committee — the $1.5 billion State Center project in Northwest Baltimore.



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