The Towson Row development has been stalled after developers discovered a geological issue – solid rock under the surface — that makes it cost-prohibitive to build an underground parking garage for the $350 million project. (Baltimore Sun video)
How is this for logic? Poor business judgment by politically influential developers results in justification for them to look to the recipients of their political contributions to bail them out. Thus, failure is not an option, and they can still make huge profits if their “bhoys” (and grils) look out for them. So, it appears that the developers are asking for the moon and hope to settle for benefits at the stratospheric level (“Kamenetz proposes more than $40 million in county aid for Towson Row,” Dec. 4).
One excuse, among others: County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and some members of the County Council don’t want that hole in the ground. Perhaps the contracts that allowed for the development of this site have language that requires performance or some other actions to protect the public from a large hole and failure? Like — fill-in the hole? Wishful thinking? Would the contracts the county inks with this group stand the scrutiny of comparison of a contract between two private, sophisticated non-governmental parties? I doubt it.
Perhaps the general public does not realize that in private development deals of this size “engineering study contingency” clauses are negotiated so that the presence of “rock” is or should be known well before the first shovel goes in and the buyer (developer) will renegotiate or terminate the agreement! Of course, if the contract is so loosely written (and based on my review of a contract for one of the parcels, my opinion is that it probably is loosely written) then there is not much downside for the developer’s failure to perform — other than its loss to date. However, since County Executive Kamenetz is one of the bhoys, expect him to advocate for their benefit, yet pitch the plan as a great public benefit.
Government alternatives and resources that may make these developers millions (or perhaps billions over time) should rather be used to redevelop Pikesville and other designated “community conservation areas.” Is Towson Row really ripe at this time? I shudder when I look at the emptiness of Towson Commons.