State Center Getting Back on Track?

An artist’s rendering of the stalled redevelopment design for State Center.
Artist’s rendering of the stalled redevelopment design for State Center.

At February’s MRIA Board Meeting, Bolton Hill resident and State Center Alliance President John Kyle related the twelve-plus-years-long saga of efforts to redevelop the State Center area. A few years ago, the redevelopment project was at the ground-breaking stage, but was suddenly shelved by Governor Hogan shortly after he took office. He did this despite the unprecedented level of community support the project had received, including from all twelve of the neighboring community groups that form the Alliance.
John reported that Ekistics LLC, the developer that has been working on the redevelopment plan alongside the community, has just released a new economic analysis of the project. This report concludes that the deal that had been resoundingly approved a few years ago and then cancelled by the Governor’s administration is still good for neighborhoods, the city, and the state, in terms of market-rate rentals and tax revenue that would be generated.
The Maryland Stadium Authority, at the behest of Governor Hogan, has also just completed its own redevelopment study of the area. Their report is not nearly as comprehensive as previous studies, and unfortunately reflects a planning perspective that is suburban, rather than urban – for example, suggesting that the site be redeveloped to include chain restaurants like TGI Fridays.
The Hogan administration also has expressed interest in exploring the viability of building a stadium at the location, an idea that has no support from anyone else.
The project has stalled for some years as the Hogan administration and Ekistics, LLC have filed suits and countersuits regarding the project. Meanwhile, the State Center Alliance, which is not participating in the legal complaints, is encouraging settlement between the two parties.
The Alliance also has met with Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus to craft Senate Bill 614, and a similar House bill, HB1286. These bills would require that any redevelopment plans for the State Center site incorporate and honor all of the agreed upon strategies that the Alliance has secured. Building on what has already been accomplished is the best way to obtain neighborhood support and make positive redevelopment occur.
Both of these bills would ensure that

  • The elements envisioned by the communities are included in any future or revised plan for State Center.
  • Any new or revised plan includes an enforceable community benefits agreement.
  • Any new or revised plan includes an economic improvement plan focused on training, short-term jobs, and long-term careers.

The Alliance requested a letter from MRIA in support of SB614 and HB1286. A motion confirming this support passed unanimously.
Delegate Hayes noted that many new legislative members had questions about the redevelopment during a recent legislative briefing on the project, and he’s optimistic that a breakthrough can happen.
Keep your fingers crossed!
On March 1, WYPR aired a story on these State Center related bills, and you can read the text of that piece here. You can support these bills by writing to Delegate Shane Pendergrass (Chair Health & Government Operations) and Delegate Maggie McIntosh (Chair, Appropriations Committee). Alliance President John Kyle asks that you also send a copy of your letter to him,