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Old March 28th, 2007, 07:24 AM   #2361
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Weinberg Foundation, city agree

Swap would end a year of wrangling over superblock, but hurdles remain
JEN DEGREGORIO
Daily Record Business Writer
March 27, 2007 6:47 PM
The Weinberg Foundation has finally struck a deal with Baltimore City for properties it owns on the West Side, which the city threatened to condemn for a development there called the superblock.

Details of the agreement remain unclear. But sources close to the deal say it involves a swap in which the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Inc. would give the city properties it owns in the superblock in exchange for assets the city owns or would acquire on the West Side.

However, the city has other hurdles to clear before the superblock becomes a reality, including lawsuits filed by West Side stakeholders.

Mayor Sheila Dixon is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to announce the agreement. She declined through a spokesman to comment for this article.

But the agreement could end more than a year of wrangling between the city and the foundation, a powerful, $2 billion charity that owns roughly half of the superblock. The 3.6-acre area is a depressed shopping district that was targeted nearly a decade ago by the city for a massive urban renewal project. It sits just west of downtown, bordered roughly by West Lexington, Liberty, West Fayette and Howard streets.

In early 2005, the city awarded the bulk of the superblock development to a team of New York investors, promising to amass properties there with its condemnation authority, or eminent domain. That award was strengthened in January when the city approved a land disposition agreement, or LDA, with Lexington Square Partners LLC, a team that includes the New York investors and their associates.

The Weinberg Foundation began criticizing the New York team’s involvement in late 2005, saying it wanted to keep its superblock properties and develop them with Baltimore-based Cordish Co.

The foundation also denounced the city for failing to deliver on a “swap” deal arranged behind closed doors in 2003, in which the city promised to give the foundation control of properties bordered by Park Avenue, West Clay, Howard and West Lexington streets. In return, the city would have gotten foundation properties in the superblock.

The city and foundation attempted to reconcile their differences, but negotiations fell apart late last year. In November, the city threatened to seize the foundation’s properties in order to jump start progress on the superblock.

S. Jerome Hagley, whose Atlanta-based firm, Harold A. Dawson Co. Inc., is part of Lexington Square Partners, said the deal between the city and foundation will allow his group to move forward.

“Hopefully this avoids prolonged litigation, and the city does not have
to exercise their condemnation rights [over the foundation],” Hagley said. “We’re excited about moving forward with our development.”

Hagley’s group proposed a $250 million project at the superblock that would include 200,000 square feet of retail space, 400 apartments and a 1,000-car parking garage. The group expects to present schematic drawings to the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm, on Friday, Hagley said.

Jerald Goldfine, owner of the Valu-Plus store on West Lexington Street, also said he is heartened by news of a compromise between the city and Weinberg Foundation.

“We hope this means that the future of the West Side is decided … soon,” he said.

The city awarded Goldfine’s real estate company, Carmel Realty Associates, the right to develop a small parcel in the superblock at the corner of North Howard and Marion streets. Goldfine said he has not yet confirmed plans with the city or Lexington Square Partners.

“We’re very pleased to be part of the West Side, and we will be part of the future,” he said.

But the superblock is not out of the woods yet. The city still must contend with lawsuits challenging its authority to redevelop the area.

Last month, companies owned by attorney Peter G. Angelos and developer David Hillman sued the city and BDC for approving an “illegal” contract with Lexington Square Partners. Among other issues, the suit contends that the city improperly included properties in the land disposition agreement that were not part of the original package awarded to the New York team.

The Baltimore City Circuit Court is also considering a case that could rule invalid the BDC’s closed-door selection of the New York team as superblock developer. In November, the Court of Appeals ruled that the BDC is a public entity, requiring the circuit court to reconsider Carmel Realty Associates v. Baltimore Development Corp., which contends that the BDC should not have selected a developer during a closed-door meeting.

Officials with the city and Weinberg Foundation declined to comment for this article.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 07:39 AM   #2362
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Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
Aside from zoning and URP, I don't see how anyone can claim they have a right to a view, unless one's property abuts the water How the heck can one claim they've been hurt? No one's owed the view of the damn water, or anything else, unless it's written into law like the aforementioned.

Commerce might be different if someone else filled in the water between them, but otherwise, I can't see how someone is owed or deserved of a particular view. The water is near, but seperate, it is not your property. One takes the risk on their "capital investment".

Nate
Right or wrong: if the value of an investment (real estate, pension, healthcare, stock, etc.) is perceived to be at risk, the investor will do whatever necessary to protect the value of their investment. It only makes sense to do so… The age, view, location, etc. all have an impact on the overall value of real estate.

It's not a matter of "right" to a view; it's a matter of investment.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 08:22 AM   #2363
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The investment of perceived future value of something that doesn't produce anything.....the whole thing is preposterious unless they've got land-use zoing or laws or agreements on the pre-existing structure's side.

....In other news.....I hope the BDC gets its butt handed to it on a platter. They deserve it.

I still dislike Weinberg, too.

Now to bed.

Nate
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Old March 28th, 2007, 09:16 AM   #2364
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MetroWest West Port

If the Social Security Admin decides to Move to West Port that would guarantee the the 65 story office tower. The Social Security Building is 1.5 million square feet. The U of Maryland is looking to take that over. The Social Security Admin no longer needs 1.5 million square feet, but would still probably need at least 750,000 square feet in the West Port Tower. If the West Port Tower is built it could give us a 900 foot plus tower.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #2365
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West-side project revived
Land swap will restart stalled 'superblock' effort

By Lorraine Mirabella and Meredith Cohn
sun reporters
Originally published March 28, 2007

Baltimore officials and one of the city's biggest charities have reached an agreement that will enable the long-stalled redevelopment of a blighted swath of downtown's west side to move forward.




The agreement, to be announced today at a news conference by Mayor Sheila Dixon, calls for a land swap that will allow the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Baltimore-based Cordish Co. to develop part of the area in the city's old retail district known as the "superblock," according to some of the parties involved.

It also heads off a looming court fight between one of Baltimore's most powerful and influential institutions and the city, which had been moving to condemn the disputed properties. With $2 billion in assets, the Weinberg Foundation is a major benefactor in the area, with its founders' names on dozens of buildings including a YMCA and a cancer institute.

"We know all about the settlement and are extremely pleased with the resolution," David Cordish, Cordish Co. president and chairman, said yesterday. "It is a true win-win-win. The main winner is the city of Baltimore and the citizens, which will be able to reap the benefits in the short term of a revitalized superblock area. The Weinberg Foundation and the Cordish Co. have a major development role in the superblock, which we are looking forward to."

Officials from the city and the Weinberg Foundation declined to comment yesterday on details of the agreement, though Baltimore Development Corp. President M.J. "Jay" Brodie confirmed that an agreement had been reached.

"That's all I can confirm," Brodie said.

Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to comment.

"We're not going to make any comment before tomorrow's press event," McCarthy said yesterday.

The mayor was to appear with foundation President Shale D. Stiller and city development officials to unveil the plan. Stiller could not be reached yesterday, and Joel Winegarden, the Weinberg Foundation's vice president for real estate, declined to comment.

The superblock is the largest redevelopment site on the west side and is considered the linchpin for bringing residents, shops and businesses to a deteriorated stretch between Charles Center to the east and the University of Maryland complex to the west.

A spokesman for Lexington Square Partners LLC, a development team headed by Chera Feil Goldman Group of New York that was selected two years ago to revitalize the area, said the agreement clears the way for the team to proceed. It plans to develop 400 to 500 market rate apartments, 200,000 square feet of retail space and parking.

S. Jerome Hagley III, executive vice president of the Harold Dawson Co., a member of the development team and a spokesman for Lexington Square, said the city and the foundation agreed to swap land, giving the city title to parcels needed for the superblock redevelopment and giving the foundation property for its own development with the Cordish Co.

The city's Board of Estimates approved an agreement in January to sell 37 properties - more than half owned by the foundation - on 3.6 acres bounded by West Fayette, Howard, Lexington and Liberty streets and Park Avenue to Lexington Square for $21.6 million.

Hagley said yesterday the developers are working through a schematic design in hopes of submitting it to the BDC Friday.

"It's a very positive step," Hagley said. "We're excited they reached an agreement on a land swap and how they're going to divvy up the parcels on the west side. ... We're looking forward to taking title by the end of the year and getting started.

"Whatever their agreement, we're happy the city and the Weinberg Foundation have come to an agreement. We look forward to collaborating with the Weinbergs ... so we can coordinate their plans for the west side with our plans for the west side. We'll be neighbors over there.

While details of the land swap were not released yesterday, the agreement may resurrect all or parts of an earlier land swap agreement between the city and the foundation.

Stiller has said that the Weinberg Foundation had accepted a BDC proposal that the foundation exchange its properties on the south side of Lexington Street for properties being acquired by the city on the north side of Lexington Street. That was the reason, Stiller has said, that the foundation did not originally submit a bid in October 2003 to redevelop the superblock. But after the city's deadline for bids from potential superblock developers had passed, the city in mid-2004 notified the foundation it could not deliver on the land swap.

Since then, the foundation refused to sell the properties and last July proposed to develop along with Cordish Co. a mix of housing, offices and shops totaling more than 2 million square feet.

Business leaders, including the Downtown Partnership, had been pushing the two sides for a quick resolution.

"The New York team and Weinberg team seem to be heading in the direction they intended," said Kirby Fowler, president of the nonprofit Downtown Partnership, who said he had not seen the agreement but understood it involved a land swap. "It's imperative that there is progress on the superblock and this agreement is a step in the right direction."



[email protected] [email protected]
Sun reporter Stacey Hirsh contributed to this article.

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Old March 28th, 2007, 11:50 AM   #2366
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Announcement on superblock development expected early today

Mar 28, 2007 3:00 AM (1 hr 47 mins ago)
by Rita Chappelle, The Examiner

BALTIMORE (Map, News) - Baltimore City officials are expected to announce that they have reached an agreement with lawyer and real estate developer Peter Angelos on the development of the city’s superblock project around the Hippodrome. Angelos had sued for a stake in the project. The news conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the mayor’s office.


Officials would neither confirm nor deny details on the matter, indicating only that a major announcement would be made.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 11:52 AM   #2367
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Downtown’s Lockwood Place welcomes Filene’s Basement

by Rita Chappelle, The Examiner


BALTIMORE (Map, News) - Lockwood Place continues to anchor down Baltimore City’s business and retail quadrant near the Inner Harbor. On Thursday, Lockwood Place welcomes another high-profile retail tenant with Filene’s Basement. The 108-year-old, off-price retail giant has expanded to downtown Baltimore, the first major department store to move there in nearly 20 years.


“Mayor [Sheila] Dixon, while City Council president, lobbied hard to promote this site at the International Convention of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development Andrew Frank. “The site is 95 percent filled on the office side and continues to add new retail tenants.”

The city assisted the $110 million, 220,000-square-foot project initially with tax abatements to help developers secure funding. Since that time, companies such as AON, Saul Ewing and Resnick Fedder now anchor the office side, while Best Buy, P.F. Chang’s and now Filene’s Basement serve as a major retail draw that continues to spur economic growth in the area. Lockwood Place offers retail, office and parking space.

“We worked very hard in making Lockwood Place a reality and now it is a vibrant part of the city’s downtown business corridor,” Dixon said. “We expect more retailers to expand to the city.”

Retail developers David S. Brown and A&R Developers are working to draw more retail businesses to the site.

The building, located at 500 E. Pratt St., was 100 percent speculative with not one potential tenant in mind when area developers and Baltimore City embarked on the project.

“The renaissance of downtown Baltimore has had multiple components — residential, commercial — involving both the provision of additional hotel and office space and a retail and entertainment component; all of these elements work together to strengthen one another and the downtown experience,” local economist Anirban Basu said.

“It is terribly impactful to have these companies downtown,” he said. “The downtown area now is less under-retailed than what it was previously. This is an reflection of downtown’s improving demographics and a changing mindset among retailers about what the urban environment can offer, especially Baltimore.”

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Old March 28th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #2368
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Looks like we're neighbors. Thankfully, I did not get hit too hard on the view obstruction. I agree with everyone about how they don't fit into the neighborhood. I mean, not 2, 3, 4, but FIVE stories. They might as well have made a highrise. Instead, it's just tall enough to block everyone's view and look awkward in the neighborhood, but not tall enough to have any impact besides being a townhome.
To play devil's advocate, as with EVERY issue there are TWO sides to the story - LITERALLY. While I have not seen the homes from the Federal Hill side, they do indeed fit in very nicely from the Key Highway side which some would consider the back. They seem to be about the same height as the homes at Harbor View, and they are shorter than the digital high school directly next to them. I don't think they are that much taller than the factory that used to stand on that site. In short, from Key Highway they look wonderful and are a vast improvement over the vacant factory, then field, that use to be there.

But I see other people's concerns too. I'd be very upset if someone took my view. Yet, as Track says, you aren't guaranteed a view! Just ask the people who bought on the south side of 414 Water Street and will soon have a kick ass view of the side of 300 East Pratt Street instead of Harborplace!

I shouldn't post this because Mrs. Dixon might get ideas, but here goes!

'View Tax' Triggers Revolt in Rural N.H.
Oct 31 07:20 PM US/Eastern
By KATHARINE WEBSTER
Associated Press Writer

ORFORD, N.H. (AP) - The one-room cabin David Bischoff built in a cow pasture three years ago has no electricity, no running water, no phone service and no driveway. What it does have is a wide-open view of nearby hills and distant mountains—which makes it seven times more valuable than if it had no view, according to the latest townwide property assessment. He expects his property taxes to shoot up accordingly.
Bischoff and other Orford residents bitterly call that a "view tax," and they are leading a revolt against it that has gained support in many rural towns in New Hampshire.

State officials say there is no such thing as a "view tax"—it is a "view factor," and it has always been a part of property assessments. The only change is that views have become so valuable in some towns that assessors are giving them a separate line on appraisal records.

The change has stirred passions in Orford, a town of 1,040 that overlooks the Connecticut River and has views of neighboring Vermont and the White Mountains. One big reason the reassessment has alarmed townspeople in Orford and beyond is that housing prices—and consequently property taxes—are shooting up in New England because of an influx of vacation-home buyers and retirees willing to pay top dollar for beautiful views.

The Orford Board of Selectmen, of which Bischoff is chairman, voted in September to set aside the revaluation by Avitar Associates of New England until the Legislature comes up with objective standards for valuing views. Critics complain, for example, that some town assessors assign fixed dollar values to certain types of views, while others multiply a home's base value by a "view factor."

Avitar president Gary Roberge acknowledged that assessing views is partly subjective and said that is why there is an appeals process. But he said Orford's revaluation was sound overall. "There's been a huge change in property values in this area," he said.

At a packed legislative hearing, Orford timberland owner Tom Thomson warned that unless the state acts, rising property taxes will force family farmers to sell to developers, permanently altering New Hampshire's rural character. "We're going to drive the people off the land who have been living on it and working it for generations," Thomson said. "It's going to destroy our No. 1 industry: tourism."

Guy Petell, director of property appraisals for the state, is sympathetic. But real estate ads and sales prove that properties with views fetch a premium, and it would be unfair to homeowners without views to ignore that, Petell said. "A piece of land on a side of a hill that overlooks a 50-mile or 100- mile radius is going to be worth more than the same piece of land overlooking an industrial complex or a landfill," he said.

In Bischoff's case, the view added $140,000 to his property's underlying value of $22,900. As a result, he expects his property taxes to jump from less than $500 last year to more than $3,000 this year. Home appraisals, whether in New Hampshire, Texas or California, are supposed to reflect a property's market value. Because the view and other aesthetic considerations affect market value, it is standard practice in the industry to take them into account.

Wayne Trout, president of the International Association of Assessing Officials, said it is unusual for assessors to assign a specific dollar value to the view. But he said the methods do not really matter as long as total assessed value accurately represents market value. Trout, the assessor for Norfolk, Va., said the value of waterfront and water-view homes there is rising rapidly, leading to complaints similar to those in New Hampshire.

In Nevada, state law requires assessors to consider views, and Washoe County assessor Bob McGowan said ballooning property values on Lake Tahoe have contributed to protests against his view-ranking system. The state helped ease the pain this year by capping annual property tax increases on primary residences at 3 percent, an approach adopted years ago by voter initiative in Massachusetts and California.

New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor said the underlying problem is the "perversity" of the state's heavy reliance on property taxes. The state has no general income or sales tax, and the resulting high property taxes are hardest on those who are land- rich but income-poor.

Retired engineer John Chandler objected when a revaluation doubled the value of his property in Hill because of its view of the White Mountains in the distance. Chandler noted that he does not own the view and cannot control it, and said it is increasingly obscured by air pollution. Besides, he is legally blind. "I'm not enjoying that view, at least not as much as Avitar thinks I should be," he said.

Last edited by 30 Floors Up; March 28th, 2007 at 01:52 PM.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 01:39 PM   #2369
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
West-side project revived
Land swap will restart stalled 'superblock' effort

By Lorraine Mirabella and Meredith Cohn
sun reporters
Originally published March 28, 2007

Baltimore officials and one of the city's biggest charities have reached an agreement that will enable the long-stalled redevelopment of a blighted swath of downtown's west side to move forward.

The agreement, to be announced today at a news conference by Mayor Sheila Dixon, calls for a land swap that will allow the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Baltimore-based Cordish Co. to develop part of the area in the city's old retail district known as the "superblock," according to some of the parties involved.
awww shit, here we go again. i really hope they're serious about this development this time. watching this project attempting to develop ihas been like hitting the repeat button on my favorite DVD. sad.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #2370
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EARLY APRIL FOOLS DAY JOKE? NAW: West-side project revived
Land swap will restart stalled 'superblock' effort


What a good day for news! And on Friday, we'll finally get to see what some of this development will actually look like.

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Old March 28th, 2007, 02:08 PM   #2371
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Losing your view stinks, but every new home represents another resident (or residents) to contribute to the city's tax base and to attract good local retail. Reality: had an apartment with a deck in Little Italy with a killer view, but the breeze and having an outdoor place to socialize with friends mattered more. Seldom had time to use it anyway.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 02:47 PM   #2372
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Originally Posted by Xander21 View Post
Westminster House is a huge eyesore on Charles St. I definitely would not mind seeing it go.
We do not need another parking lot in Mt Vernon. Let's build on the empty lots we have in the area before ripping down any more buildings, no matter how ugly they may be. You know if that building comes down there will be a 30 year fight over what to build there because of how close it is to George.

I saw a picture of what was at the WH site in one of those Then and Now Baltimore picture books.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #2373
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You know if that building [Westminster House at Charles and Centre] comes down there will be a 30 year fight over what to build there because of how close it is to George.
Good point. Think, however, that everyone's gotten their argument chops down to the point where we could get the fighting over in a couple years. Plus, the footprint of new construction would take up the lot just to the south of WH as well and would be big enough for retail to anchor that section of Chas. St. A two-fer!
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Old March 28th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #2374
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Whats the deeal with the Brexton Building? Are the condo's proposed there officially caput?

Also, are there talks of the SSA moving? I hadn't heard about it before???
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Old March 28th, 2007, 05:05 PM   #2375
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where is this?! Wegmans is very particular with their new stores and where they go. Being originally from NY, i am addicted to them. Thank goodness the store in Hunt Valley is fairly close by.

the Shoppers Food Warehouse in Federal Hill is a travesty. Good riddance to it when the new grocery store in Locust Point opens up on the old paperboard site!!!
Wow, that would be great! Keep us posted. This would be right in Brewer's Hill, between Canton and Highlandtown/Greektown.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #2376
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
HAPPY GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY ALL
(I'm British, but I was Greek yesterday!)

Well there was a parade in Greektown this weekend to honor Greek Independence Day. Greektown is part of the 50% of Baltimore that some Washingtonian thinks is "unfit for living". Below is his quote: "I have a buddy of mine that lives near Greektown by S Highland and I've never been so afraid for my life as when I visit him".

As you can see, he's right. I was so scared I saw angels!

I walked from Mt. Vernon, to the parade, and back again without getting murdered, robbed, or asked for money. WOW! I must look poor or something. (Drip sarcasm now.)
I have a house in Greektown; I feel pretty safe there, actually.

Thanks for the pics! We were out of town this weekend and were sorry to miss the parade.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #2377
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So history tells me, Federal Hill was an over-dense slum (though perhaps not a ghetto), and then the highway condemnation left the neighborhood vacant. I've talked to some older people who are amazed that people want to live in Federal Hill; they spent their formative years trying to get the hell out!

As a side note, given that S. Baltimore has solidified quite a bit, would not the quality of at least ES there be on the up and up with many more active and committed parents (parents--and/or lack thereof: the main reason why schools suck)?

Nate
Ditto, Canton. The kids who grew up in Canton in the 70s and 80s all want houses in Baltimore County now.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #2378
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If anyone is interested, here's the official plat of the planned Athena Square development in Greektown . . . the development next to the planned KSI project.

http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/me.../ds00158-1.tif

I'm going to see if there's anything for the KSI project available yet.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #2379
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If the Social Security Admin decides to Move to West Port that would guarantee the the 65 story office tower. The Social Security Building is 1.5 million square feet. The U of Maryland is looking to take that over. The Social Security Admin no longer needs 1.5 million square feet, but would still probably need at least 750,000 square feet in the West Port Tower. If the West Port Tower is built it could give us a 900 foot plus tower.
Didn't the metro west building recently (within the last 5 years) get a makeover?
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Old March 28th, 2007, 06:14 PM   #2380
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Wow, that would be great! Keep us posted. This would be right in Brewer's Hill, between Canton and Highlandtown/Greektown.
They're building a Wegmans in the city? HOORAY!! I shop there faithfully. It's a shame I have to go to Hunt Valley. It really is a nice quality store.
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