Stokes made his comments about the planned development, which will feature a Lowes and Walmart in Remington and lower Charles Village, during a candidates’ forum at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church.
He said in an interview after the forum that the developers used a minority contractor as a front to get the Baltimore City Council to pass a planned unit development to allow the project, but quickly tossed him aside.
“I’ve called them numerous times to ask about it. They won’t talk to me about it. I got it,” Stokes said.
He also said he doesn’t feel a “good faith effort” to hire local residents is enough of a commitment from the developers.
“They said they would make a good faith effort to hire people. It’s not good enough. It’s not good enough. They are getting tax breaks. They are getting city tax breaks and state tax breaks. We want better than best faith effort,” Stokes said.
Other candidates expressed a mix of optimism and skepticism about the project.
Jason Curtis, a Democrat, said the city and residents have an obligation to hold the developers accountable to any promises they made, but said he ultimately supports the project.
“I think it’s going to be a positive for us in the long run. It’s going to hire a lot of people,” Curtis said. “A lot of people want to argue that the Walmarts of the world, or the big box hotels, or the big box companies put the small businesses out of business, and I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.”
Odette Ramos, a Democrat, said she feels the process that led up to the approval of the development was open, but wishes residents would have been given more choices as to what kind of retailers would go into 25th Street Station.
“My biggest fear with the 25th Street Station is that it turns into Port Covington, and that would be a problem,” Ramos said.
Kent Boles Jr., the lone Republican running, said he couldn’t comment on whether or not Stokes was lied to, but said the development will bring jobs the city desperately needs.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, and it would be amoral for us to turn our backs on this,” Boles said.