By Kahan S. Dhillon Jr.
Mayor Pugh, thank you for validating and vindicating the fundamentals of The Baltimore Renaissance Revitalization Project by advocating for a $1 billion revitalization fund in your recent State of the City address.
While we presented a plan almost two years ago that is 10 times the size of your proposed idea, your brief statement was strikingly similar to a key component of the TBR Revitalization Project we proposed last summer. Though you have not elaborated on your public announcement of a revitalization plan, our plan is complete — though it has not yet received your proper consideration.
If you are hoping that TBR will fill the $9 billion void, our plan being a $10 billion revitalization project, we would be glad to help through a public/private partnership. The TBR revitalization plan is both the largest in the history of Baltimore city as well as the largest citywide project currently underway in the nation.
I was perplexed by your first step, as after calling on businesses initially to fund your $1 billion idea that you outlined in your address, you allocated $2 million of city funds only days later. Why is the city putting aside $2 million for a project that is intended to be funded exclusively by businesses? Could this money not be better spent hiring more police officers or on school heating repairs? Possibly even for the creation of a detailed plan to further outline your $1 billion idea?
At a time when there is a record level of financial needs throughout Baltimore, using $2 million for a business-funded venture makes little sense. It is apparent that there is no plan for your funding proposal, which is unlikely to stimulate anywhere near the billion dollars that you seek.
As a businessman involved primarily in real estate for the past 16 years, I can assure you that raising substantial capital for any real estate project can only be achieved when an investment plan is in place. For example, our historic revitalization plan has already attracted multiple times the funding commitments than the $2 million you allocated from the city in our Phase 1 fund offering and is progressing rapidly toward the $1 billion goal with no public solicitation to date.
For the past eight years I have been getting to know Baltimore and its citizens, and while the city has some of the best and brightest minds this country has to offer, it also has been lulled into accepting the status quo. New leadership and hopeful expectations continue to provide the same failing results. In almost every major category that measures progress, the city is failing; and during the declining state of Baltimore, the majority of the population has been forced to accept less rather than expecting more.
It is time for the people of Charm City to EXPECT MORE. I am inspired to see how residents have responded to our project and in recent elections by overwhelmingly ushering in a new class of elected officials, becoming much more vocal at school hearings while peacefully marching and protesting when they felt it was necessary. Now it is time to keep a scorecard for our elected officials and expect nothing less than what this city deserves.
Mayor Pugh, I have built a first-class team at The Baltimore Renaissance. We love and care tremendously about all of Baltimore, from Pratt Street to Pulaski Highway. And while you haven’t met with me to discuss details of our historic plan, Madame Mayor — though many local leaders have suggested you hear me out – it is intriguing that you now seem to be advocating for an exact part of our project from its inception.
We have conducted outreach meetings with 608 residents/stakeholders to date from all walks of life, from all over Baltimore, and are gaining support growing faster than ever expected. It is time to EXPECT MORE and build a better, safer, and stronger Baltimore.
Kahan S. Dhillon Jr. is president of The Baltimore Renaissance.