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City May Sell Historic Landmarks

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- More than a dozen historic landmarks in Baltimore may be up for sale soon.

But as Gigi Barnett reports, the city first wants to know how much they will bring in first.

The city says its historic buildings are a liability, an eyesore and a drain on its pockets.

Baltimore's Shot Tower was the tallest building in the nation back in 1828 and became a national historic landmark in the early 1970s. The city says it wants to know how much the Shot Tower is worth to a private developer.

"We have some great properties in unique locations and we hope we can find the right kind of marriage to make it work," said City Director of Planning Thomas Stosur.

The city is weighing the costs of selling or leasing about 15 of its historic sites. Selling the real estate could beef up the city's cash-strapped budget, as some of the properties are abandoned, old and dilapidated.

Stosur says a consultant is coming in to appraise the sites.

"Real estate is location, location, location. That's why we're hiring a specific firm to go in and look because they're unique properties," Stosur said.

Some residents say the plan would save city history.

"If they could find a buyer that would do the work and maintain it, I think it would be a good thing," said resident Durward Center.

Roland Park's water tower is also on the list. Originally built back in 1905, the tower became defunct in 1930 and in recent years has fallen into grave disrepair. Some Roland Park residents, however, say the tower belongs to the public.

"They're part of Baltimore. They're historic landmarks. I don't think anyone should own them. It should be a Baltimore thing," said resident Liz Wildt.

Of the 15 sites, 12 of them are protected by a historic landmark designation. That means any developer who buys or leases them must first get their plans approved.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently asked the city's spending board to approve $46,000 in consultant fees to appraise the historic sites.

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