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After 15 months of planning, Patrick Turner, president of Turner Development Group, has unveiled plans for a $1.4 billion development that will be located on Baltimore City’s last large parcel of developable waterfront property.

Located along the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch in Baltimore’s Westport and called Westport Waterfront, project plans call for a mixed-use development that will include residences, office space, retail and entertainment venues.

“This is the biggest project in Baltimore,” said Turner. “We’re almost building a second downtown.”

Specifically, the development will include 2,000 residences, including apartments, town homes, condominiums and lofts, 2.5 million square feet of office space and half-a-million square feet of retail and entertainment space.

The project will be anchored by a 65-story office building and the first building is expected to take delivery by late 2008. Surrounding the structures will be a restored beach and wetland area, as well as more than five-and-a-half miles of hiking and biking trails. It will also feature a Veledrome bicycling arena.

But while the size of the project is expected to have a huge economic impact on the city, raising the amount of property taxes generated from the area from under $50,000 to more than $32 million during the next 10 years, economic development officials see the revitalization of the neighborhood as the major benefit.

“The primary importance of this project is revitalizing the neighborhood,” said Aris Melissaratos, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “I think the Middle Branch has the potential to become a mini Inner Harbor.”
M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., agreed that the development would have a significant impact in improving the West Port neighborhood and that the project is a prime example of creative and innovative use of a former industrial waterfront area.

“I think good things will come out of Turner’s efforts, housing values will go up and people will fix up their properties,” said Brodie. “He’s not turning his back on Westport at all, and I think that’s a very positive aspect of the plan.”

Turner added that he expects the development to attract both businesses and residents because of the area’s easy accessibility to Interstates 95 and 295, the Westport light rail stop and its proximity to downtown.

The development is being designed to be ecologically friendly by creating green areas and wetlands and by having all the run off from the property filtered and cleaned using bioswales before going into the Patapsco.

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