A Virginia businessman has unveiled an ambitious plan to redevelop large portions of Baltimore. During a City Council hearing on Thursday, the council was told a public investment of 3.5 million dollars would be required to get the project underway.
During the two-and-a-half-hour hearing before the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the 10 billion-dollar Baltimore Renaissance Plan was discussed in great detail. Councilman John Bullock admitted he just wanted to gain a better understanding of the plan. “My purpose today was to get some clarity. We had to see where this is going. We’re happy when folks are interested in Baltimore and we had to know that the [plans] will be followed through and are not empty promises.”
Bullock went on to add that the plan would likely need to go through meetings and negotiations with the Baltimore Development Corporation, before advancing. While Mayor Catherine Pugh was aware of the plan, she had no intention of meeting with its author, Kahan S. Dhillon Jr., a residential home building from Virginia. Dhillon is also a managing partner with Regent Co.
While testifying before the council, Dhillon admitted he developed the Renaissance Plan several years ago after determining that Baltimore could be a city of “vast opportunity, but also a place of lost opportunities.”
Dhillon went on to answer numerous questions from the council’s members. In total, the plan would create 70 redevelopment projects and would be carried out along with other large projects, including the 5.5-billion-dollar Port Covington Project and the 1.8 billion-dollar East Baltimore Development Inc. project. Simultaneously, the project would create around 45,000 jobs as it progresses over the next 15 or 20 years.
Dhillon explained that “district task forces”, which would be made up of City Council representatives and other experts, would manage the plan. To accommodate planning and implementation costs of the plan, Dhillon would need $3.5 million from the city. More importantly, Dhillon would need support from the public, city workers and elected officials to put the plan into action.
While Dhillon claimed investors were already willing to commit $200 million to the project, he declined to give names. “Until we have a confidentiality agreement, we won’t disclose the key parts of our plan.”
Councilman Isaac Schleifer laid out plans of his own. He suggested Dhillon could buy all of the city’s vacant properties and redevelop them for far less than the $10 billion needed for the Renaissance Plan. Councilman Leon Pinkett ridiculed the plan by suggesting, “this is not how development works”, while displaying a mock-up of the plan’s blueprints for the audience.
Dhillon told the council that Baltimore is viewed in a negative light by the rest of the United States. He insists something substantial is needed to change that perception. For Dhillon, that something substantial would be his Renaissance Plan.