Corporate Office Properties Trust, Greenebaum Enterprises, Merritt Properties and St. John Properties filed a lawsuit in Howard County Circuit Court Tuesday, April 18, challenging the county’s use of a Tax Increment Financing agreement to enable the construction of a parking garage in downtown Columbia.

The Howard County Council approved the plan for the $51 million, 2,545-space garage in November, following a package proposal by County Executive Allan Kittleman that granted Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC), Columbia’s master developer, a total of $90 million to fund various public infrastructure needs in the Crescent District.

The county executive, who proposed the legislative package, declined to provide a statement, citing an administration policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

“While the coalition is supportive of the TIF as it pertains to the redevelopment of downtown Columbia, the coalition seeks to prohibit Howard Hughes Corp.’s use of a public garage funded by Howard County TIF money to satisfy the private parking needs of HHC office tenants,” said Alessandra Moscucci, an account executive with the Nevins & Associates firm hired by the plaintiffs to respond to public relations inquiries. “By using a publicly funded garage, the HHC office development has an unfair economic advantage.”