Almost a full year after first applying with the state to make Catonsville, Arbutus and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, part of the first designated Arts & Entertainment District in Baltimore County, county officials and community groups are still working on the process.
Baltimore County first submitted an application to get a designated A&E District in March 2018, and was asked by the Maryland State Arts Council to address some questions and concerns about its application.
In the midst of that process, however, then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz died of cardiac arrest. Marilyn Maitland, president of the Baltimore County Arts Guild, said losing Kamenetz “put everything on hold” as county administrations transitioned.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski is “committed to securing the first Arts & Entertainment District designation in Baltimore County,” said T.J. Smith, a spokesman for Olszewski. “We should be moving forward in the coming months.”
Maitland said she and others working on the county’s application for a designation expect to resubmit the application to the state by early October.
“We agreed that we want to have the bulk of the research and writing by mid May or early June, then have time to review drafts,” she said.
Designated A&E Districts in the state get tax credits for developers or land owners who renovate in the area for arts-related uses, income tax credit for artists who create or sell within the districts, and an abatement of sales tax on ticket sales in the districts.
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Maryland currently has 26 districts, stretching from Oakland in far-western Maryland to Bethesda, to Elkton and south to Berlin, near the Atlantic shore.
The district in Baltimore County, as proposed, would run from the business district in Catonsville that surrounds Frederick Road, stretch through the Lurman Woodland Theatre to the UMBC campus, then extend to Arbutus around East Drive and Southwestern Boulevard before jutting north to the Arts Guild on Maiden Choice Lane.
Maitland said the boundaries will be “part of the discussion” as individuals in the county work on resubmitting the application to the state, but the way she’s envisioned the district is “working with the university and letting it be a hub in the midst of both sister areas.”
A Towson University study that analyzed the districts in 2016 showed that they supported $855.8 million in state GDP, about $63.5 million in state and local tax revenue, and 8,594 jobs that paid about $267 million in wages.
“I’m definitely in favor,” said County Councilman Tom Quirk, an Oella Democrat who represents the southwestern part of Baltimore County. “I think arts and entertainment, it helps with business, it helps drive more economic vitality.”
The County Council, in late March 2018, created additional incentives for the proposed district, if it was approved by the state, which included interest-free or low-interest loans for improvements to commercial buildings, property tax credits, and local tax exemptions on admissions or amusement charges.
Quirk said he would support similar local incentives if the council votes to apply for a district designation again, but would want to discuss the specifics with the current administration.