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Baltimore’s Preoccupation with Big Projects

October 12, 2011

Just one day after the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) made headlines for its ambitious $900 million plan for a new arena, hotel and expanded convention center to “drive Baltimore’s economy out of a pause,” Forbes magazine urban policy reporter Mark Bergen publishes a gem arguing that public investments in large projects meant to spur development and economic activity rarely achieve their promised return on investment. While the GBC’s plan calls for private investment, it still requires $400 million in public funding. Berger’s best quote comes from John O. Norquist, the head of the Congress for the New Urbanism and former Milwaukee mayor:

“Places that have gotten in trouble are the ones that spend way too much money on convention centers, stadiums and malls.”

Baltimore is certainly one of those places.

And while we’re all dreaming about improving Baltimore’s economy, any chance the GBC can find a way to finance the $2.8 billion in estimated repairs and modernization needed for Baltimore City public school buildings?

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