As a resident of Little Italy, I feel obliged to correct false statements and faulty conclusions in your June 12 editorial ("Do What's Best for Little Italy") about the proposal to develop apartments in the vacant Bagby furniture warehouse.
I have examined HUD's file on this project, which is supposed to be financed with federal guarantees. The development company has changed names and ownership so frequently that no one really pretends to know who owns the project.
You, too, were fooled, for you listed the developer as Patrick Turner and Henrietta Corp. Mr. Turner was ordered by HUD to be no more than a minority partner in the venture. Although %J Henrietta Corp. is one of the corporate identities used by Mr. Turner, the latest entity listed as developer of the project is 1000 Fleet Limited Partnership. Previously, it has been called 1000 Fleet Street, Inc. and One Thousand Fleet LLC.
Originally, Mr. Turner had as partners two individuals who participated in the disastrous Medical Waste Associates debacle. When HUD looked at their financial statements, it rejected the two partners. Later, Mr. Turner appeared before city agencies and said that one of the pariahs was never a party to the transaction. But in documents filed under oath in a bankruptcy case the "non-party" claims to own 30 percent of the venture. Then the "non-party" amended his bankruptcy papers to identify himself as a "consultant."
Like his partners, Mr. Turner's plans have changed with the winds. In April 1993 he said that the development venture would provide 117 parking spaces. Now, the plans call for 90 spaces.
Plans submitted to HUD and the city also have not revealed the exact nature of the project. When Mr. Turner came to our community asking for approval of his project, he said that the project would have "market rate" rentals, with no low-income occupants. Subsequently, we learned from newspaper reports that he has agreed to set aside 10 low- income units in exchange for $1,285,000 in subsidies from the city and state. These subsidies come in addition to the HUD- guaranteed mortgage of $4.2 million.
We object to the subsidies and changes in the project for two reasons. First, we have borne our share of metropolitan Baltimore's burden when it comes to subsidized housing. Little Italy is bordered on two sides by projects that are living monuments to the failure of America's public-housing policies. Enough is enough.
Secondly, if the government wants to spend $1,285,000 for set-asides for low-income occupants, it should get more than 10 units in a poorly located rehab building. New townhouses could be built for far less cost, with far better results for the poor who once again find themselves used as pawns for high fliers in the development field.
You end your editorial with the statement that all the fighting should stop. I say all the lying should stop. We have been lied to by the developer of this white elephant. We have been lied to by a city bureaucrat who went before the Board of Estimates and said that the community was divided on the Bagby project -- just two days after our association voted unanimously to oppose it. Now, your editorial misleads your readers.
If The Sun, the developer and the city want to learn how to stop the fighting, we suggest that you look down the street at the more feasible apartment project proposed by the Paterakis family and the Sylvan Learning Center. These new apartments, located on the waterfront, will be offered for lower rents than those proposed for the Bagby building, with its view of acres of vacant asphalt lots. The well-planned Paterakis proposal makes
us more determined to demand alternative uses for the Bagby white elephant, like conversion to a much-needed multi-level parking facility.
Robert Marsili is a member of the Building Committee of the Little Italy Community Organization.
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