Mayor’s panel ap­proves plan to sell four down­town park­ing garages

Baltimore Sun - - AROUND THE REGION - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake by­passed the City Coun­cil on Thurs­day to ap­prove a pro­posal al­low­ing the city to sell four down­town garages to raise up to $60 mil­lion for recre­ation cen­ters.

The plan, which clears the way for the city to be­gin negotiating with com­pa­nies to buy the garages, was unan­i­mously ap­proved Thurs­day by the Off-Street Park­ing Com­mis­sion, a six-mem­ber panel of may­oral ap­pointees that hadn’t met since 2007.

The pro­posal had pre­vi­ously stalled for two years in a coun­cil com­mit­tee, blocked by City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who has ar­gued that the garages are gen­er­at­ing rev­enue for the city and shouldn’t be sold.

Rawl­ings-Blake will leave of­fice be­fore the garages can be sold. Mayor-elect Catherine Pugh, who takes of­fice Dec. 6, would make the fi­nal de­ci­sion on any deal and how any money is spent.

The mayor ap­pointed to the com­mis­sion Steve Sharkey, di­rec­tor of gen­eral ser­vices; Paul Graziano, di­rec­tor of the Hous­ing Author­ity of Bal­ti­more City; Tom Sto­sur, di­rec­tor of plan­ning; Henry Ray­mond, di­rec­tor of fi­nance; Frank Mur­phy, act­ing di­rec­tor of trans­porta­tion; and An­drew Smul­lian, deputy mayor for govern­ment re­la­tions and la­bor.

Their vote fol­lowed more than an hour of pre­sen­ta­tions on the mer­its of sell­ing the garages by Peter Lit­tle, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Park­ing Author­ity of Bal­ti­more City, and other city of­fi­cials.

The city re­ceived un­so­licited of­fers for the garages — lo­cated at 11 S. Eutaw St., 22 S. Gay St., 101 S. Paca St. and 210 St. Paul Place — a decade ago, when they weren’t prof­itable, Lit­tle said. Af­ter sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments, they are per­form­ing at a mar­ket rate and gen­er­at­ing $5.4 mil­lion a year in net in­come, he said.

The value of the sale, he said, ex­ceeds the ap­praised value of main­tain­ing city own­er­ship. The sale, which of­fi­cials project would net roughly $60.3 mil­lion, would as­sist the Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment in build­ing and main­tain­ing $136 mil­lion in fit­ness and well­ness cen­ters, com­mu­nity cen­ters, out­door ath­letic cen­ters and pools, ac­cord­ing to act­ing Parks and Recre­ation di­rec­tor Wil­liam Von­drasek.

The City Coun­cil did not put a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the com­mit­tee. Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said that the coun­cil pres­i­dent is look­ing for­ward to dis­cussing next steps with Pugh.

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