- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The state of Maryland has gone to court to invalidate a $1.5 billion redevelopment plan for a large state office complex in Baltimore.

Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said Thursday the lawsuit filed against State Center LLC in Baltimore City Circuit Court signals how serious the administration is about moving forward with redeveloping the site with a viable plan. The state filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, after the Board of Public Works voted to end the lease agreements on the languishing plan, citing high debt associated with it.

Michael Edney, an attorney for the developer, said after the board’s vote that the developer plans to sue the state, because it’s contractually bound to the leases canceled by the board. In outlining its case, the state noted the developer’s contention that Maryland was obligated to proceed with the project under the prior agreement, which was approved seven years ago.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to resolve an actual and existing controversy between the parties, declare certain agreements null and void, prevent harm to the state and force (State Center) to adhere to its legal obligations, including those arising from the (master development agreement),” the state’s lawsuit said.

The development plan was initially approved by the Board of Public Works in 2009. But the project never moved beyond the conceptual part of the first phase. The project also was delayed for several years due to litigation brought by opponents of the development. The state contends that vast changes took place in the economy, real estate markets and technology during the delay. The state’s need for office space also changed.

The initial proposal called for a mixed-use community of office, retail and residential space to replace a cluster of five state buildings and 1,300 parking spaces on about 22 acres of land in midtown Baltimore.

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