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Downtown Property Owners Sue To Halt State Center Project

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Thousands of new jobs, new housing and new retail. That's the goal of a major project planned for mid-town Baltimore.

But as the plan moves forward, Adam May reports that another group ramps up efforts to stop it.

State and city leaders celebrate plans to redevelop the state office complex located northwest of downtown near Bolton Hill.

The project will house 16 state agencies while adding apartments and retail space, including a supermarket, shops and restaurants.

"This dynamic public/private partnership will create hundreds of jobs, and spur further investments in our west side," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "State Center is good for Baltimore and must move forward."

And it's a top priority for the O'Malley administration.

"How Maryland can move forward in a smart, green and growing way, this project is a perfect example of that," said Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley.

"We think it's a major giveaway of taxpayer money," said Ramsey Flynn.

Flynn represents a group of downtown property owners suing to stop the project.

They're concerned the heart of downtown Baltimore will suffer when thousands of state workers are relocated to the new complex.

"Downtown Baltimore has been trying to hold on [to] some kind of vitality for some time, and this is a leap frog development that has gone under the radar of public discussion way too long," Flynn said.

The mayor is fighting back.

"Even if it means going against wealthy powerful downtown interests, it's time to stop suing and start doing," Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.

The lawsuit is still unresolved. If the project moves forward, the overall plan could take 15 years.

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