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Old February 27th, 2007, 03:50 PM   #1401
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The Vote is In!!!

Baltimore has officially joined the ranks of civilized cities and has outlawed smoking in bars!!!
the ONLY bad thing about this bill is that it won't take effect for another 10 months. in the mean time, i've been hanging at bertha's a LOT lately. they went smoke free last november. mc govern's in canton is a weekend place but has been smoke free since its opening. its about time city government did something somewhat progressive.
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Old February 27th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #1402
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the ONLY bad thing about this bill is that it won't take effect for another 10 months. in the mean time, i've been hanging at bertha's a LOT lately. they went smoke free last november. mc govern's in canton is a weekend place but has been smoke free since its opening. its about time city government did something somewhat progressive.
Hey, that's my bar! I love Dianah the bartender on Sunday when we all relive the fabulous days of disco! (In a smoke free environment of course)
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Old February 27th, 2007, 06:14 PM   #1403
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State calls off sale of World Trade Center
Baltimore Business Journal - 10:20 AM EST Tuesday, February 27, 2007by Daniel J. SernovitzStaff
Gov. Martin O'Malley has officially taken Baltimore's World Trade Center off the market, clearing up uncertainty about the proposed sale that has been on hold since last year's gubernatorial elections and the transition that followed O'Malley's win over former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.

Acting Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said Tuesday he has reviewed the Ehrlich administration's efforts to sell the 30-story office tower on Baltimore's Inner Harbor and concluded the state should retain ownership of the building instead.


"The World Trade Center remains a premier property on Baltimore's skyline and a valuable asset in the state's portfolio," Porcari said in a statement. "Based on the strength of those key factors, the right thing to do is to hold on to the building, market it properly and insure it remains a vibrant part of Baltimore."

O'Malley, a Democrat, has backed Porcari's recommendation, according to the release, and the transportation department will now focus its efforts on seeking new tenants for the 300,000-square-foot building and renewing leases with its existing tenants.


i'm wondering, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
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Old February 27th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #1404
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The fact that a decision has been made is a good thing.

Uncertainty is bad for business!

At least tenants and prospective businesses have a better idea what to expect.

As to whether it's good MDOT should own it, I don't know.

Nate
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Old February 27th, 2007, 07:50 PM   #1405
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the ONLY bad thing about this bill is that it won't take effect for another 10 months. in the mean time, i've been hanging at bertha's a LOT lately. they went smoke free last november. mc govern's in canton is a weekend place but has been smoke free since its opening. its about time city government did something somewhat progressive.
Shocked

I too think that the decision by the City Council was somewhat progressive and I was somewhat surprised by the outcome. I for one think it will be good for business because for people like me who never thought of going to a smoke filled bar, I will now have second thoughts. The quote in the Sun this morning "They ruin everything" is probably a minority opinion but trust the Sun to find that individual! Hopefully the state will follow through on a statewide ban on smoking in public places
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Old February 27th, 2007, 11:34 PM   #1406
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Wada, check your private message.

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Old February 28th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #1407
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Shocked

I too think that the decision by the City Council was somewhat progressive and I was somewhat surprised by the outcome. I for one think it will be good for business because for people like me who never thought of going to a smoke filled bar, I will now have second thoughts. The quote in the Sun this morning "They ruin everything" is probably a minority opinion but trust the Sun to find that individual! Hopefully the state will follow through on a statewide ban on smoking in public places
i won't go as far as to say i was "shocked" at the outcome, but i would've been real disapointed if it didn't pass. its not as though anyone i've ever talked to who smokes goes to a bar to smoke; rather its something they do while they drink. smoking has lost its socializing status while drinking has retained it.

i've spoken to a lot of politicians on this issue. i'm amazed at how out of touch they are when it comes to smoking. state delegate brian mcHale [(d) - district 46 / fed hill, locust point, south baltimore, pigtown, etc] has told me outright that he will not support a state wide ban. it'll be interesting where he votes when it comes to a head. of course, pete hammen [(d) - also district 46 / fells point, canton, butchers hill, highlandtown, etc], who chairs the health and government operations committe in annapolis hasn't let the state wide smoking bill out of committee for the past few years. a bill can't voted on by the full house untill it passes committee. its a sad state of affairs when the politician who heads a health orriented committee won't vote for something which has been proven time and time again to improve the health of his constituents. it makes you wonder how far into the pockets of the restaraunt and bar lobby he is.

what this city (and state) needs is some more progressive thinkers in ALL aspects...education, health, planning, design, etc. the collective minds at city hall continue to exude optimism for baltimore as a 'orld class city' but its rare that they do anything thats moves us out of the 'charm' of blue collar grit. at leas twe banned smoking before richmond (i think). of course, tobacco IS the state flower of va.

sorry for my rant, i know its a bit off topic. thanks for putting up with me on this. its a pretty hot topic to me if you can't tell.

wada...welcome back friend! i'll look for you in the smoke free bar next time i'm there on a sunday!!!
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Old February 28th, 2007, 03:19 AM   #1408
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Business
Group challenges BDC, 'superblock'
30 mins ago Group challenges BDC, 'superblock'
Dave Carey, The Examiner
Read more by Dave Carey
Feb 27, 2007 7:45 PM (30 mins ago)
Current rank: # 1,189 of 16,304 articles
BALTIMORE - The owner of the Atrium at Market Square LLC is challenging Baltimore City’s right reach an agreement with a private company that wants to develop the city’s “superblock.”

Baltimore lawyer M. Albert Figinski, who practices law with Peter G. Angelos, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court against the mayor and Baltimore City Council, the Baltimore Development Corp. and Lexington Square Partners LLC, developer of the “superblock.”

The lawsuit challenges the BDC’s city-granted authority to enter into an agreement with Lexington Square, and further challenges the BDC’s authority to recommend to the city’s Board of Estimates that the land be sold to Lexington Square.

BDC officials didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.

Joining Atrium owners in the lawsuit are 120 West Fayette Street LLLP and 39 West Lexington Street LLC, both of which own property within the boundaries of the six-block “superblock.” The area is bordered by Fayette, Liberty, Clary and Howard streets.

Lexington Square is a partnership between the New York-based Chera Fell Goldman Group and Atlanta-based Harold A. Dawson Co. Inc. The group wants to create 200,000 square feet of retail and about 500 residential units in the “superblock” area.

In the lawsuit, Atrium and the property owners claim the city’s development agreement is invalid because vague language in the Request for Proposal submitted by Lexington to the BDC was never addressed by local officials.

Atrium and the others also claim that Lexington Square Partners, a Delaware-chartered company, is not registered to do business in the state of Maryland.

The lawsuit tells only one side of the story. The defendants have yet to respond to the claims.

The Atrium lawsuit is the second filed this year challenging the city’s “superblock” project.

Arnold M. Jolivet, leader of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, claimed in his January lawsuit against the city that the mayor and City Council went around the public bidding process to award the “superblock” developer a $10.5 million credit in demolition and removal costs. It’s a similar claim made in Atrium’s lawsuit.

Figinski said in the Atrium lawsuit that the city’s offering to Lexington Square Partners is “nothing less than a means for the City to procure, without bids, certain undefined public improvements and public works.”

Examiner
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Old February 28th, 2007, 03:41 AM   #1409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
The fact that a decision has been made is a good thing.

Uncertainty is bad for business!

At least tenants and prospective businesses have a better idea what to expect.

As to whether it's good MDOT should own it, I don't know.

Nate
I'm not so sure about MDOT as a landlord. I hope they are paying attention this time to the water aspect of the building. Some of their vacancies date back to Isabel, which flooded the basement, ruined all of the electronics and closed the building for several months. Nothing visible has happened to the street level loading dock where the water went since then. I recall that there was supposed to be some sort of inflatable seal over the entrance, but it didn't work. In any event, a settled situation seems preferable to a pending sale.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 03:44 AM   #1410
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[QUOTE=PeterSmith;11938622]Business
Group challenges BDC, 'superblock'
30 mins ago Group challenges BDC, 'superblock'
Dave Carey, The Examiner
Read more by Dave Carey
Feb 27, 2007 7:45 PM (30 mins ago)
Current rank: # 1,189 of 16,304 articles
BALTIMORE - The owner of the Atrium at Market Square LLC is challenging Baltimore City’s right reach an agreement with a private company that wants to develop the city’s “superblock.”..../QUOTE]

Sad to say, I guess this means that the superblock will continue to be a blight for a couple more years.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 05:24 AM   #1411
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Legg leases 97,000 sq ft in Lower Manhattan

From the NY Times:

Yesterday, another new lease was signed downtown, as Legg Mason, a financial company, agreed to occupy 97,000 square feet at 55 Water St., according to a spokesman for CB Richard Ellis, which represented the building and the tenant.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 08:35 AM   #1412
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www.baltimore.hilton.com
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Old February 28th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #1413
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Commercial-building owners sue over superblock
CYNTHIA DIPASQUALE
Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer
February 27, 2007 7:21 PM
A group of property owners has filed suit against Baltimore and its quasi-public development arm, claiming the process for selecting a West Side superblock developer was illegal.

The plaintiffs, all of which own large commercial properties surrounding the land slated for reconstruction, challenge the Baltimore Development Corp.’s use of an “exclusive negotiating privilege” with Lexington Square Developers LLC. They also claim a final land disposition agreement approved by the city’s Board of Estimates last month differs vastly from the original request for proposals.

“It’s critical to our clients’ investments that this be done well and it’s critical to, frankly, the resurrection of the West Side of Baltimore that this be done well,” said attorney M. Albert Figinski, with the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos. “This is the one area of chronic deficiency by the BDC.”

Figinski represents 120 West Fayette Street LLP, an Angelos-connected entity that owns a multi-story office building at that address; 39 West Lexington LLC, owner of the former Baltimore Gas & Electric headquarters; and the Atrium at Market Square LLC, which owns the site of a former Hecht’s department store.

The plaintiffs have asked the Baltimore City Circuit Court to declare the exclusive negotiating privilege and land disposition agreement illegal and beyond the scope of the city’s and the BDC’s power.

City Solicitor George A. Nilson had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit Tuesday evening but said he met with Figinski last week about issues of concern.

“This not an invitation to ask for an injunction,” Nilson said, “but if [Figinski] was fully confident in the merits of his claims and wanted full relief, I think he would have asked for an injunction. … When you ask for an injunction, you put the issues on table earlier and have to work harder.”


‘Will of the wisp’

The superblock is a 3.6 acre tract of land roughly bordered by Fayette, Liberty, Howard and Lexington streets.

The BDC issued a request for proposals in 2003 outlining the area and specific properties to be redeveloped. The request also advised the city would maintain an “exclusive negotiating privilege” with its selected developer.

Lexington Square Developers, an affiliate of New York-based developer Next Generation Chera LLC, submitted what the suit alleges was a “vague” proposal, but the BDC accepted it at a meeting in late 2004 and agreed to the exclusive negotiating privilege.

It did not grant such a privilege for another six months, however, and didn’t recommend a Land Disposition Agreement to the Board of Estimates until late last year, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs allege exclusive negotiating privileges are never mentioned in Baltimore’s charter or code. Further, they claim provisions in the agreement differed “markedly and illegally” from those in the request for proposals, or RFP.

The area subject to the agreement was altered and enlarged from the RFP, even though the RFP indicated the specified area for redevelopment could not be changed, the plaintiffs claim; also, the developer that was granted rights under the agreement is not the same entity as the one that submitted the RFP.

Even after more than three years, the selected developer still does not have a fixed plan for the area, the suit alleges.

“In short, the [Land Disposition Agreement] procured a veritable ‘will of the wisp,’” the complaint says.

“We want this group to be sent packing and hopefully some new effort at redevelopment undertaken,” Figinski said. “This is just unacceptable in its current state.”

Ronald Kreitner, executive director of the WestSide Renaissance Inc., commented that the suit offers “a real opportunity to clear the decks and have a fresh start that is not vulnerable to all the continued challenges that this current situation is.” WestSide Renaissance is a nonprofit advocate for revitalization of the city’s West Side. It is not a party to the suit.

The suit also names Lexington Square Partners LLC, which includes the original developers and Atlanta-based Harold A. Dawson Co.

Jerome Hagley, Dawson’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said he and his partners “stand behind the process and the administration, and continue to be positive that these allegations will be rectified and we will continue to move forward with the development.”

This is one of several suits related to the superblock development pending in the courts. In November, the Court of Appeals ruled in Carmel Realty Associates v. Baltimore Development Corp. that the BDC is a public entity subject to the state’s Open Meeting Act. It remanded the case to the Baltimore City Circuit Court to decide whether the closed-door meeting at which the BDC selected Lexington Square as the developer was void.

In another suit just filed in January, developer Andrew Jolivet sued the city and Lexington Square Partners LLC for entering into an illegal agreement.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 12:15 PM   #1414
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Thanks for the link.

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Old February 28th, 2007, 01:32 PM   #1415
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I'm not so sure about MDOT as a landlord. I hope they are paying attention this time to the water aspect of the building. Some of their vacancies date back to Isabel, which flooded the basement, ruined all of the electronics and closed the building for several months. Nothing visible has happened to the street level loading dock where the water went since then. I recall that there was supposed to be some sort of inflatable seal over the entrance, but it didn't work. In any event, a settled situation seems preferable to a pending sale.
You mean you didn't see the new state of the art waterproofing system? It consists of 6x6 pieces of lumber glued together to create 3 foot tall barriers. They are placed in front of all the entrances. Sandbags are then put in front of them. They have been sitting next to the entrances for months. Seriously - even I couln't make this up!

Last edited by 30 Floors Up; February 28th, 2007 at 01:46 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 01:41 PM   #1416
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The definition of Superblock is:

BOTCHED
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Old February 28th, 2007, 01:50 PM   #1417
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The definition of Superblock is:

BOTCHED
do you guys EVER see this project lifting off? it's been proposed since 1998, and counting.........
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Old February 28th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #1418
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You mean you didn't see the new state of the art waterproofing system? It consists of 6x6 pieces of lumber glued together to create 3 foot tall barriers. They are placed in front of all the entrances. Sandbags are then put in front of them. They have been sitting next to the entrances for months. Seriously - even I couln't make this up!
I saw that thing. I thought it was junk left behind by a construction crew or something to repel tourists. You have to be kidding. That is supposed to keep out a storm surge from a tropical storm? They might have better luck trying to vacuum it up with a shop vac. You just added another item to my folly collection. If I were a potential renter in that building and they showed that barrier to me, I would head for Owings Mills
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Old February 28th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #1419
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do you guys EVER see this project lifting off? it's been proposed since 1998, and counting.........
Once I thought 2008, then when the lawyers got involved, I moved it up to 2018.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #1420
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This guy states very well what I've know for a long time. In the past 10 years, I've been to almost every large American City and I've seen the good and the bad. Baltimore truly is a special place and compares favorably to most places.

Christian S. Johansson: Baltimore: Get over the inferiority complex
Christian S. Johansson, The Examiner Feb 28, 2007 3:00 AM (5 hrs ago)

BALTIMORE - Living in the Baltimore area for any length of time greatly increases your chance of contracting a geographically-rooted inferiority complex. This syndrome causes many Baltimore residents to apologize for being from an area that they, in fact, really love. Gov. Martin O’Malley used to refer to this phenomenon as “pathological modesty.” Paul Grogan, author of “Comeback Cities,” would probably agree. According to Grogan, residents in cities like Baltimore tend to associate more closely with past challenges than with reality.

Fortunately, the Baltimore region is very different from commonly held perceptions. Take, for example, the well-worn myth that Baltimore is an old, rust-belt city resembling Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cleveland. The truth is that Baltimore stands eye-to-eye with the economically and culturally desirable cities of Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis.

In terms of population growth, for example, greater Baltimore ranked 31st nationally between 2000 and 2005, with a net gain of more than 100,000 people. That put the Baltimore area just behind San Diego, but well ahead of both Cleveland (which lost more than 21,000 people) and Pittsburgh (which lost 45,000 people). St. Louis did better, gaining 79,000 people, but still ranked behind Baltimore.

The results are similar when you examine median home prices in major U.S. markets. The Baltimore region currently ranks 27th nationally, with a median home price of $286,500. While that’s not as strong as Seattle ($372,400), it compares favorably with Denver ($253,200) and Minneapolis ($233,500). Cities like St. Louis ($154,400), Cleveland ($138,500), and Pittsburgh ($120,400) are in a totally different group. Although rising home prices create a new set challenges, they indicate a rising economy.

Over and over we debunk myths about our vibrant community. The list of areas for comparison easily continues:

Per capita personal income? Again, greater Baltimore — ranking 8th out of the top 25 largest U.S. metros at $38,813 — looks more like Minneapolis (which ranked seventh at $40,915) and Denver (which ranked 6th at $40,939) than Pittsburgh (17th, $34,735), Cleveland (20th, $34,264), or Atlanta (22nd, $33,838).

College education? The Baltimore region currently ranks 10th among the 25 largest U.S. metros, with a third of its population holding a bachelor’s degree. That puts Baltimore just behind Atlanta (eighth, 34.3 percent) and San Diego (ninth, 34 percent), but well ahead — again — of the traditional competitors, Pittsburgh (19th, 27 percent) and Cleveland (21st, 26.6 percent). So we’re smarter and higher paid than we thought. What is truly eye-opening, though, is how compelling greater Baltimore’s rankings are, regardless of the statistical comparison used:

» Knowledge workers by metro area? Our greater region ranks third nationally, behind only San Francisco and New York;

» Economic strength? Baltimore currently ranks 23rd, rapidly moving up from 44th in 2004 and 36th in 2005;

» Most desirable places to relocate families? Baltimore ranks seventh, just behind Washington, D.C.;

» Top public schools? The Baltimore metro area currently ranks 3rd nationally for major U.S. metro areas;

» Downtown area? According to the well-respected nonprofit Brookings Institution, Baltimore has “one of the strongest emerging downtowns” in the United States.

I could add a plethora of statistics, but the story will not change. The point is clear: This region is highly competitive with other cities across the country.

We know we are not New York or San Francisco, and we more than likely never will be. And why shouldn’t that bother us? Because the central part of our region’s attractiveness is that we possess the best characteristics of both big and small-town life. This is a city and a region on the rise and the only thing standing in our way may be ourselves. So get over that inferiority complex, Baltimore-we’re setting the pace and others are just trying to keep up.

Last edited by 30 Floors Up; February 28th, 2007 at 04:32 PM.
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