Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hotel Hearing

The Baltimore City Council's Committee of the Whole's agenda for today's 1:30-4:30 pm public hearing in Room 408 of City Hall makes it seem like another mundane session of street closings and openings boundary changes. Yet three items are sure to make for an intense amd rowdy session.

The Convention Center Hotel Development District Ordinance (05-0092) will set aside land for the development of the infamous convention center hotel. Certain to be most hotly debated are the Supplementary Convention Center Hotel Loan Fund Capital Appropriation - Department of Housing and Community Development $305,000,000 and Convention Center Hotel Revenue Obligations Ordinances (05-0106 and 05-0093, respectively), which will establish a city-financed fund for construction and other costs associated with the hotel.

With a vote on the contentious proposal expected as early as this afternoon's hearing, The Sun reports that some Council members' support is conditional. Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., for example, "wants $50 million for neighborhoods and $10 million to start a recreation center revitalization fund." He echoes community groups, notably the BUILD coalition, which have deemed hypocritical the continued investment into downtown while residential neighborhoods suffer. Other Councilmembers, like Helen L. Holton, have previously objected to the notion of publicly financing a venture that should attract private investment.

The Sun's Jill Rosen told me that, as of two hours before the hearing, the vote is still up in the air but, either way it goes, is expected to be close. Tallies have put it at 7-8 for the past week. This should make for quite an interesting afternoon.

from The League: Reassembled (with revisions)

*** Addendum *** 7/28 00:31
The Council today decided to further postpone a vote on the proposal. Baltimore Business Journal reports that Council President Sheila Dixon's office expects a vote sometime next month.

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