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Gov. Hogan Looks For New State Center Developers As Legal Battle With Original Rages On

The State Center office building in Midtown Baltimore as of November 2017

Gov. Larry Hogan has initiated the search for a new developer to renovate the State Center office complex before he has extricated the state from its previous agreement, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

The 28-acre complex of office buildings for state government departments was built in Midtown Baltimore in the 1950s and 1960s, and the state of Maryland had previously agreed on a plan with Ekistics for a $1.5B overhaul. But in 2016, the Board of Public Works, led by Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, voted to rescind the deal, citing overly expensive lease rates that would worsen the state's debt.

In December 2016, Ekistics filed suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court, alleging breach of contract on a "shovel-ready" project, according to the BBJ. Hogan contended that Ekistics had delivered "no measurable work product," and called the lawsuit "frivolous." Ekistics is reportedly seeking $100M in damages.

Hogan has now directed the state's Department of General Services to release an "expression of interest," meant to gather names of potential developers to succeed Ekistics. 

“We just made our final offer to settle this legal obstacle, and we are going to expedite the process so that the minute we get rid of this lawsuit we will be able to immediately begin the [request for information] and RFP process so the redevelopment of State Center can at long last become a reality as quickly as possible," Hogan said in a statement obtained by the BBJ.

Legal representatives for Ekistics called Hogan's statement a "grand distraction," and questioned the governor's commitment to revitalizing the Midtown neighborhood. Franchot described his offices in State Center as in poor condition, and had previously threatened to move his 400 employees elsewhere in the absence of improvement.