An attorney for the former developer of the site, which is suing the state over canceling its $1.5 billion contract, denounced Hogan’s plan as a betrayal of the city.
State Center serves as a physical barrier, blocking the economic resurgence that has transformed downtown from moving toward impoverished West Baltimore.
Hogan (R), who owns a real estate company, said Tuesday that he has instructed the Maryland Stadium Authority to fast-track plans to redevelop the site in a “transformative” way.
The governor criticized that plan as unworkable, unacceptably slow-moving and unnecessarily expensive, and he floated the idea of building a sports arena on the site.
Ekistics countersued the state for $70 million in damages. While the litigation is ongoing, Hogan and state lawyers said they believe they can solicit new plans now.
The 3,300 employees who work in the complex will be moved to Baltimore’s central business district to prepare for demolition, Hogan said. Collectively, the workers will use 1 million square feet of office space — and Hogan said there is no plan for them to ever return to the neighborhood.
Michael J. Edney, a lawyer representing Ekistics, accused Hogan of “the hollowing out of State Center” and said the economic loss of the removed workers cannot be replaced.
“The Governor is long on details for cleaning out State Center, but short on any description of the future,” Edney said in a statement.
Hogan said state lawyers have spent three years working to “free the state” from the development deal and countersuit, which he called “extortion of the Maryland taxpayers.”
“After more than 15 years of inaction, obstruction and failure, we are finally able to move forward on the redevelopment of the State Center project,” Hogan said.
Hogan has had a complicated relationship with Baltimore, which is dominated by Democrats. He angered city leaders and residents in 2015 by canceling a $4 billion east-west transit project known as the Red Line that would have connected poor neighborhoods with job centers. As with the State Center project, Hogan criticized the Red Line deal as ill conceived and unworkable.