The Harbor Point TIF is a Bad Deal for Baltimore

First things first: friend of the blog and sane, decent Baltimorean Paul Gardner has launched a petition on to voice opposition to the Harbor Point TIF. Since you are also a sane, decent Baltimorean please click over and sign it now, before you continue reading.

Okay, now that that’s done we get to talk about why Harbor Point is a monumental screw-job for the city of Baltimore, being forced through by our mayor, SRB, who is now recognized nationwide as one of the worst mayors in America.

The harbor Point site. Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

The harbor Point site. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

It’s really hard to write about a thing like Harbor Point, especially since it’s a months-old developing story, without either getting very long-winded and journalistic or very belligerent and angry (Guess which one we’re inclined towards). So what we’re going to do here is give some bullet points in no particular order:

  • The project is going forward as an Enterprise Zone development. Of course, there aren’t a lot of poor folks hanging around in Harbor East, so the developers had to piggyback off the poverty in Perkins Homes to get their project to go forward.
  • Once Harbor point is built, do you think folks from Perkins Homes will be welcome there? Do you? How about folks from… anywhere else? There is not one single unit of affordable housing planned for Harbor Point.
  • The last giant giant building that Baltimore taxpayers financed exclusively for outsiders is now completely fucking broke. It’s lost millions in each of the last 5 years and may end up sucking further millions from the city’s general fund in the near future.
  • The developer promises new jobs, but the big name companies being mentioned are already in Baltimore. Exelon and T Rowe whining that they want new buildings is a lot like the Oakland A’s whining that they want a new stadium.
  • Hey waitaminute… Didn’t Under Armour build itself a shiny new headquarters and create a bunch of jobs without stealing hundreds of millions from the treasury? (Hint: they did.)
  • Demand for office space and luxury condos isn’t that high. In our view, it hardly makes sense to build a ‘new downtown’ when the old one is half empty. What would the mayor have us do? Take everything between President and MLK and call it an Arts District?
  • Taxpayer financed municipal megaprojects always cost way more than expected. This one is no different.
  • The ‘current’ price tag to taxpayers for Harbor Point is $400,000,000. That’s about 4 times what it was supposed to be initially, and can only go up from there.
  • SRB wants to pay for $59,000,000 worth of parks for Exelon employees to enjoy while she’s shutting down rec centers in poor neighborhoods.
  • SRB still isn’t done bungling the development of the Superblock. One colossal fuck up at a time please, Madame Mayor.
  • Harbor Point Won’t Start Paying Property Taxes Until 2025. Ours are still due every quarter, though.
  • Let’s not forget the site is a chromium dump, and just might maybe give a bunch of people cancer and poison the harbor’s water even more. Construction of this type has never been attempted before.
  • Of course the developer and all their lawyers and associates maxed out on campaign contributions to SRB. OF COURSE THEY DID. Would you expect anything less?
  • But the City doesn’t want you to know that. In fact, they don’t want you to know anything. That’s why they violated the open meetings act on the Harbor Point deal.
  • It’s not as though the city doesn’t know how to embrace good development, and it’s not as though no private developers are willing to invest in non-waterfront areas. Look at what’s happening in Station North, at the Everyman Theater, or Camden Crossing.

  • This deal is not a foregone conclusion. They never broke ground on that shitty Wal Mart in Remington and there’s still time to stop this too.
  • Considering that city homeowners now pay a flush tax, a rain tax, and a 40% increase in water bills we don’t think giving away (at least) $400,000,000 to they mayor’s developer buddies is such a good idea. All this talk about Harbor Point being this generation’s Inner Harbor ring completely hollow, and Stephanie Rawlings Blake has zero credibility left.

    We signed Paul’s petition because we mean it: we won’t be supporting the mayor or any other candidates who support Harbor Point. In fact, we plan to donate time and money in the next election cycle to see them out of office.

    And if you think that signing an online petition is useless, consider what happened recently during a peaceful demonstration for Trayvon Martin: city hall was barricaded and cops were positioned on every corner. By the time you decide to show up to city hall to see a council meeting in person, you may find yourself stuck on the other side of Fayette.