Inside Baltimore "Negotiations"

tax-monster.gifA Daily Record piece on new plans for Baltimore’s Charles North redevelopment provides some very interesting insight into how redevelopment officials treat property owners in so-called negotiations prior to invoking eminent domain.

First, some background. The Baltimore City Council created the Charles North Urban Renewal Plan in 1982; the plan placed 20 properties north of Penn Station under the cloud of eminent domain, but not even that was enough to lure private investment into the area.

Five years ago, after officials at the Baltimore Development Corporation said they had no interest in acquiring properties if there were private redevelopment plans, the threatened property owners requested that their properties be taken off the acquisition list, since they all had their own plans to redevelop their properties.

Despite the private plans, the city went ahead, amending the redevelopment plan and going out to search for developer proposals. One property owner had a private investment lined up, while another was already restoring his property.

Even though the city had no plan, it tried to seize a few properties via “quick-take” (immediate seizure without a hearing and only 10 days for property owners to protest). The city lost in court.

So back to the Daily Record‘s article on the new Charles North plan.

Joseph McNeely, executive director of the Central Baltimore Partnership, a public-private coalition that commissioned the new Charles North plan says he’s been negotiating with property owners over implementing the plan.

This is how he negotiates:

“We’ve had meetings on 60 properties where we say, you can’t sit on properties in this neighborhood,” said McNeely. “If you don’t get behind the development plan, we’re going to be your enemy. If you’re willing to invest, we’ll be your best friend. … We’re not going to take it anymore. You can’t speculate here to our detriment.”