Mayor Pugh Explores Tax Incentives to Redevelop Park Heights

The city’s blighted and troubled Park Heights community may soon get a boost through tax incentives, Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday.

The mayor, speaking at a news conference at City Hall, said she is considering a tax increment financing district in the Northwest Baltimore community.

As reported in the Baltimore Business Journal,

A restoration of the Park Heights area has been underway for about five years after the establishment of the nonprofit Park Heights Renaissance group, which has targeted demolition of certain areas of vacant buildings and houses and redevelopment. But those efforts have rolled out in fits and starts, and the community, long ignored for decades and plagued with drug dealing and violence, has continued to struggle.

Recent debate over the future of 147-year-old Pimlico Race Course in Pimlico near Park Heights has brought the area back into a larger spotlight, Pugh said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority in February released the first phase of a study on the Pimlico Race Course that concluded the facility needed about $320 million in renovations and upgrades. Pugh’s response has been to support keeping the Preakness Stakes race in Baltimore, even as the Stronach Group, owner of Pimlico, has signaled a possible move to Laurel Park because the current Pimlico structure cannot support the addition of modern skyboxes and upgrades.

“In Pimlico, we ask should we be looking at a TIF area?” the mayor said.

The TIF possibilities — which would offer the sale of bonds to private investors in return for funds for infrastructure for new development — is a part of the ongoing discussions to keep the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, said Anthony McCarthy, the mayor’s spokesperson.

It would join other city TIF districts including Mondawmin Mall, Clipper Mill, Belvedere Square, East Baltimore Development Corp. and Port Covington.

McCarthy said a press conference is expected to be held within the next two weeks to discuss “the mayor’s clear mandate to renovate the neighborhood” in Park Heights and he said the discussions are ongoing now within the public and private sector to make sure the Triple Crown race remains at Pimlico.

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