'Superblock' stall

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's efforts to redevelop a large tract on the west side has hit a formidable roadblock. A recent ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals has reinstated a lawsuit challenging the legality of the development process. And there's little reason to expect that the driving force behind the lawsuit, attorney Peter G. Angelos, won't want his day in court.

That leaves Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Development Corp., which is overseeing the project, in an untenable position. They can fight the lawsuit in court or try and reason with Mr. Angelos and company outside of court. Either way, the project is sure to be delayed further, and this revitalization effort has been moving in fits and starts since the concept of a "superblock" project was advertised in 2003.

The lawsuit, filed by companies owned by Mr. Angelos and developer David Hillman, is seeking to scrap the west-side project and start over. It charges that BDC violated the city's charter in how it chose developers for a large swath of land it assembled as part of a major revitalization of the west side of downtown. It also alleges BDC changed the scope of the project, disenfranchising potential bidders.

The Court of Appeals this month overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed the Angelos lawsuit and returned the matter to the Circuit Court of Baltimore, a victory for Mr. Angelos, who owns a building within a block or two of the project's site. In a previous case involving the superblock project, the appeals court criticized BDC for its secretive ways.

Mayor Dixon should invite Mr. Angelos to City Hall. Resolving this dispute sooner rather than later would benefit the city and appease stakeholders in the west side's revitalization who are anxious to see their investment in the renaissance dream realized.

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