Tax credit may spark sta­tion pro­ject

Con­struc­tion could be­gin next year for Penn Sta­tion re­de­vel­op­ment

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Mered­ith Cohn

The long-awaited re­de­vel­op­ment of Bal­ti­more’s his­toric Penn Sta­tion got a “crit­i­cal miss­ing piece” of its fund­ing sources when the state said it would award the pro­ject a $3 mil­lion his­toric tax credit, po­ten­tially al­low­ing con­struc­tion to be­gin in the first half of the new year.

The money would help fund the pro­ject’s first phase, a $70 mil­lion over­haul of the “Head House,” the cen­tury-old main build­ing on North Charles Street that will re­ceive a ma­jor up­grade, with new re­tail shops and of­fices on up­per floors, ac­cord­ing to John Ren­ner, vice pres­i­dent of devel­op­ment for Cross Street Part­ners, which is work­ing with Beatty Devel­op­ment Group and Am­trak on the ef­fort.

The $3 mil­lion is a fraction of the over­all cost, but Ren­ner said such re­use projects can be tough to fi­nance and pull off, es­pe­cially when they are in a tran­si­tional neighborho­od that has come far enough to im­press lo­cals but maybe not out­siders con­sid­er­ing where to in­vest their dol­lars.

Bal­ti­more is also a “show-me town,” Ren­ner said.

“People want to see progress, so I think a state his­toric tax credit award is im­por­tant to show the pro­ject is real this time,” he said. “People have been talk­ing about it for a decade or more.”

The credit brings the to­tal raised so far to $53 mil­lion out of $70 mil­lion, and an­other $3.5 mil­lion or so is ex­pected in fed­eral his­toric tax cred­its. De­vel­op­ers will have to come up with $13.5 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing.

Those funds could come from a lo­cal or re­gional bank or from in­vestors look­ing for their own ben­e­fits for in­vest­ing in a newly des­ig­nated Op­por­tu­nity Zone, a fed­eral pro­gram to en­cour­age spend­ing in distressed ar­eas.

“Now all we need is ten­ants,” Ren­ner said.

Scaf­fold­ing on the build­ing in the first half of 2020 could grab some at­ten­tion. He ex­pected a range of out­lets to even­tu­ally sign on, from a qual­ity news stand and coffee shop to fast ca­sual and finer din­ing restau­rants cater­ing to both trav­el­ers and the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

There also is about 40,000 square feet of of­fice space, and Ren­ner said he hopes to at­tract ten­ants who need satel­lite space near the tran­sit hub or oth­ers who travel fre­quently.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan and the state Depart­ment of Plan­ning an­nounced the tax cred­its Monday, along with cred­its for seven other projects, for a to­tal of $9 mil­lion.

“The Mary­land His­toric Re­vi­tal­iza­tion Tax Credit is one of the most ef­fec­tive in­vest­ment tools for strength­en­ing Mary­land’s lo­cal economies,” said Ho­gan said in a statement. “The projects awarded this year will bring hun­dreds of jobs, as well as new hous­ing, com­mer­cial, and arts op­por­tu­ni­ties through the re­de­vel­op­ment of our com­mu­ni­ties.”

State officials said there were 19 ap­pli­cants seek­ing $24 mil­lion for projects. The officials said they used es­tab­lished cri­te­ria, in­clud­ing ones out­lined by the U.S. In­te­rior Depart­ment for his­toric build­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tions.

Oth­ers that won tax cred­its in­clude Glenn L. Martin Plant #2/Mid­dle River De­pot, a mas­sive struc­ture on East­ern Boule­vard that has been pur­chased by Bal­ti­more de­vel­oper Blue Ocean, and Day Vil­lage on North Avon­dale Road in Bal­ti­more County.

In Bal­ti­more City, awards went to projects at 1629–1631 Aliceanna St., Straw­bridge M.E. Church on Wil­son Street, 3127 E. Bal­ti­more St., 301-305 N. Howard Street and 417 N. Howard St.

“Plan­ning sup­ports his­toric re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion while ad­vanc­ing com­mu­nity re­vi­tal­iza­tion and eco­nomic devel­op­ment,” said Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Rob McCord in a statement. “This fund­ing helps en­cour­age preser­va­tion and adap­tive re-use of his­toric build­ings and en­hances the en­joy­ment of our state’s history, while help­ing to breathe new life in our com­mu­ni­ties.”

The Penn Sta­tion pro­ject is part of a $400 mil­lion to $600 mil­lion pro­ject an­nounced in De­cem­ber 2017 to re­de­velop an area around Penn Sta­tion into a tran­sit-ori­ented hub of apart­ments, shops, of­fices and a ho­tel.

The pro­ject would in­clude the Head House, track im­prove­ments to ac­com­mo­date high-speed trains and a mixe­duse pro­ject on a lot ad­ja­cent to the train sta­tion. The pro­ject also aims to de­velop other Am­trak-owned parcels in the Sta­tion North neighborho­od.

Penn Sta­tion is Am­trak’s eighth busiest sta­tion with more than 1 mil­lion pas­sen­gers each year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.