Rendering of the proposed State Center complex at Howard and MLK. credit: Mithun
Rendering of the proposed State Center complex at Howard and MLK. credit: Mithun (BALTIMORE SUN)

I disagree with the premise in the editorial, "State Center's departure" (Jan. 2), that the cost to the state in rental payments and the garage for the redevelopment of the state's Baltimore office complex, as well as the strong possibility that the lease payment would count against the state's debt affordability, were surmountable hurdles. This project was always highly favorable in concept and arguably weak in its financial underpinnings.

There's little question that the center badly needs a makeover. There's little question that a mixed-used, transportation-oriented development would give a needed jolt to mid-city Baltimore. There's little question that the surrounding communities had coalesced around the concept and its potential.

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The numbers simply didn't make sense to the state and hence the taxpayers. To get financing for a risky urban development, the developer not only needed a credit-worthy anchor tenant — the state of Maryland — but it required exorbitant lease payments over a lengthy period of time. Less expensive office space was and is available in the city. Add to the hefty rent payments a $28 million garage funded by the state and you have a questionable investment by the state and its taxpayers.

When Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. first envisioned redevelopment of State Center, the idea was a good and innovative one. It seemed an ideal transportation-oriented project. It's execution, however, specifically its financial infrastructure, had serious weaknesses.

The Board of Public Works made the right and reasonable decision.

Howard Freedlander, Easton

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