Baltimore County News
Project to Include Prominent Retail and Health Care Tenants
Baltimore County announced today that the proposed Merritt Pavilion project at the former North Point school site would create 2,000 jobs for Dundalk, including 1,500 short term construction jobs during its build-out, and more than 500 permanent jobs once completed.
National tenants that signed letters of intent include popular, new to Dundalk, retailers such as Chipotle, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-a and Five Guys.
In addition, the project will include an internationally renowned medical center providing needed services to the community.
Modern Recreational Center
The development will also feature a modern, air conditioned 24,395 square foot Eastfield Community Center that will include a theater, a multi-purpose room and indoor facilities for soccer and wrestling programs. The new building was designed with substantial input from the recreation and theater users of the current building which was constructed in 1953 as a junior high school. An independent professional assessment cited the need for $18.5 million in repairs needed to bring the building up to modern code standards, citing ADA violations, asbestos removal, and window, plumbing and electrical replacements. Construction of the proposed new building would be paid from proceeds generated by the sale of the former school.
The project also includes upgrades to four baseball fields and two full-size soccer fields. In addition, the developer would pay for a new turf field at nearby Merritt Park.
Improved Quality of Life, Increased Jobs
“When you talk about positive economic development, it’s about two things: improving quality of life and increasing jobs,” said Will Anderson, Director of Economic and Workforce Development in Baltimore County. “Merritt Pavilion is a project that scores big on both fronts. New jobs, great health care and restaurant options, a new rec building, these are really strong additions for the community. These kinds of improvements will make Dundalk an even better place to live.”
“This project will create jobs, bring in national retailers, and most importantly replace a 60 -year old building with a larger and better space for recreation programs,” said Cary Quintana, Dundalk resident and small business owner. “Vibrant retail and a modern community center are just what Dundalk families want and need.”
“The Merritt Point Pavilion project in Dundalk is a boost to the entire region, with national retailers, a world renowned medical center, and more than 2,000 jobs in the Dundalk community,” said Michael E. Moore, CEO of Sparrows Point Terminal. “As we move forward with redeveloping Sparrows Point, we’re encouraged to see other projects and investments being made in the area that will make Southeastern Baltimore County an even more attractive place for companies and their employees to locate, live, work and raise a family.”
While the development awaits technical approval from the State’s Board of Public Works, Merritt Pavilion has already been approved by the Baltimore County Council on three occasions, by a Baltimore County Administrative Law Judge, by the Baltimore County Board of Appeals, by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, by the Maryland Department of Environment, and by the State Interagency Committee on School Construction.
Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive
"Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made." — Dr. Robert Schuller
These are very challenging economic times in Baltimore County, and we have to develop creative solutions to complex problems. We have an aging infrastructure. Some of our police and fire stations are more than fifty years old. Eighty percent of Baltimore County’s schools are over 40 years old. When I took office, 52% of all of the schools in the County did not have air conditioning. In two years, we have reduced that number to 36%.
So how do we pay for replacement of public safety buildings and upgrade our schools with air conditioning and needed technology, while still holding the line on taxes?
We can sell three existing County parcels and generate enough cash to pay for the replacement buildings to be located at other County-owned sites, and with the leftover profit, even invest in school improvements for air conditioning and technology. And at the same time, when the parcels are sold, we will generate new property tax revenue for the County, and new jobs.
Think about this for a second. We have three run-down buildings that need to be replaced. The two police stations were built in 1953 and 1964. The fire station was built in 1958. The old government way was to borrow millions of taxpayer dollars to build replacement buildings on the same site. Our new creative way of doing things will allow us to sell the land, and in essence, construct the new buildings for free. Yes, that is F-R-E-E! And we will be able to re-allocate that money we were going to spend to use for other important infrastructure needs.
Innovative ideas like this allow us to avoid any increase in the tax rates. And by the way, this is now the 24th year in a row that we haven't raised the property tax rate, the 20th year in a row we haven't raised the income tax rate, while still retaining our exclusive Triple AAA credit rating.
The ability to air condition or upgrade technology at additional schools will depend upon the net revenue generated from each sale. For example, if the Towson Fire Station site at York and Bosley generates sufficient revenue, Baltimore County will use those funds to air condition Dumbarton Middle School. If the North Point Police Station site on Wise Avenue generates sufficient revenue, those funds will be used to air condition one or two elementary schools in the southeast area, and to provide technology upgrades to Holabird Middle School. Should the sale of the Randallstown police substation on Liberty Road generate sufficient revenue, any funds will be used to air condition or upgrade technology for a Randallstown area school.
As part of the continued strong working relationship between the County and its school system, the North Point Police precinct would be relocated to an under-capacity school. This would save the school system money by closing one school building and allow for more efficient utilization of existing space in another school. The current North Point police precinct was itself a product of consolidation in 1981, having previously been North Point Junior High. The building was constructed in 1953. The school system is evaluating as part of the proposed plan the relocation of Eastwood Elementary Magnet School to other schools in the area depending on the organizational model that is selected by the school system. Models under consideration by the school system would utilize Holabird Middle School and perhaps Norwood Elementary.
For any of these projects to move forward, each sale must generate a sales price that the County finds acceptable. If that does not happen, Baltimore County is prepared to reevaluate moving forward with the proposed project.
While the Towson Manor Park site is an option for the fire station, I have met with the surrounding community, and I remain hopeful that we will be able to locate an alternate site that will enable us to retain the open space in East Towson. Alternative sites must already be owned by the County, of sufficient acreage, and acceptable to the public safety standards of the Baltimore County Fire Department. I hope to have engineering analysis on additional sites in the next three to four weeks.
The police substation in Randallstown will be relocated to a newly renovated space in the County's Vehicle Operation and Management (VOM) facility that now occupies a former auto dealership on Liberty Road that was recently purchased by the County. As a result of the purchase of the VOM facility, the County will generate the profit from the sale of one building and terminate two existing leases of VOM facilities. The proceeds from the sale of the building will be directed to Randallstown-area schools. This could include air-conditioning or technology upgrades.
Once the SFP’s are issued, the Solicitation for Proposal may be accessed on the County website at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/budfin/purchasing/currentsolicitations.html .
I remain committed to providing the people of Baltimore County a government that is innovative, responsible, and efficient. I look forward to keeping you informed about that latest initiative.
Revised April 6, 2016