City-State Demolition Project Off To Slow but Sure Start

Project Core, a partnership between Governor Hogan’s administration and the City of Baltimore, is slowly but surely moving forward. The project involves removing vacant, blighted rowhomes and revitalizing the remaining lots and communities. The state has invested $75 million into the project.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Officials had identified more than 370 properties for demolition by the end of 2016, but just 53 properties have been approved for razing, and costs are mounting faster than anticipated — both troubling signs the program could fall short of its goals.

In interviews, city and state officials backed away from previous projections but said it is too early to judge the effectiveness the program, a partnership between the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and Baltimore’s housing department.

Under the new program, the state promised to give the Stadium Authority at least $7.1 million a year in funding for demolition — and the possibility of up to $25 million a year — over four years. Individual projects also can apply to the state for demolition or stabilization funding.

In addition, the state promised to make other existing programs — such as low-income housing tax credits, lending and grant programs — available to projects on sites created by demolitions. The state Department of Housing and Community Development estimates that about $600 million in financing would be available for such redevelopment proposals over four years, though legislative analysts have questioned how that financing would work.

The city is responsible for readying properties for tear-down and maintenance of the lots afterward.

Officials said the tear-down program — Rawlings-Blake referred to it as “demolition dollars on steroids” — has been slow to start, in part because agencies spent time developing best practices in response to neighborhood complaints about previous razing jobs gone wrong.

The new rules include environmental protocols — such as reducing dust by wetting the area and filling the sites with clean fill — plus salvage requirements and community notification.

Read the article in The Baltimore Sun to learn more.