Hogan Ready To Move On State Center Project In Baltimore | WYPR

Hogan Ready To Move On State Center Project In Baltimore

Nov 26, 2019

Gov. Larry Hogan and former Mayor Catherine Pugh tour the State Center complex in August 2017.
Credit Office of the Governor

Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that Maryland will move forward with the long-delayed State Center project. It was the second time in 17 months he’s made that announcement.

Back in June 2018 the governor issued a call for developers interested in taking over the project, which has been tied up in lawsuits.

He said then he was “pleased to announce that we are finally able to move forward” with the project despite “15 years of inaction and failure.”

Now, a year and a half later, he said he will issue a request for proposals to take over what he called a “bold, transformative redevelopment of the state center project.”

“After more than 15 years of inaction, obstruction and failure we are finally able to move forward on the redevelopment of the state center project,” he told a crowd of state employees at the Midtown site.

The project, however, remains mired in lawsuits with the previous developer, which Hogan wants to get rid of. He said Tuesday that Attorney General Brian Frosh has assured him he can move forward.

Raquel Coombs, Frosh’s spokeswoman, said the suit is “plodding along,” and confirmed that Frosh had told the governor he could proceed.

Under Hogan’s plan, all 3,300 state employees in 12 agencies housed in those 1960s era buildings would be moved in phases to space in the city’s central business district, starting with the Department of Labor.

He pledged to “work closely” with the surrounding community “to insure that the redevelopment of this site addresses the priorities of the local citizens.”

That would include “new employment opportunities,” affordable housing units, community amenities, including a grocery store and “other retail options which the community has asked for,” he said.

Those are aspects of an original plan for the project that a state commissioned study released last January rejected. A bill passed in the General Assembly last session requires much of the original plan.

Hogan would not guarantee bringing state employees back to the site after work is completed. He said there “may be a possibility of an agency or two in the new redevelopment process, but it’s not a plan to keep all of the agencies here. It’s not really what the neighborhood redevelopment wants to see.”

That brought a sharp rebuke from Michael Edney, the lawyer for State Center LLC, the developer involved in the lawsuit. He accused Hogan of “hollowing out” State Center.

“By transferring every government agency out of State Center forever, he has broken the State’s decades-long commitment to the surrounding communities and to the City not to do so,” he wrote in an email.

Coombs, Frosh’s spokeswoman, said the suit will most likely drag into next year.

Audio will be added.