By Gail Kalinoski
Baltimore—A $5.5 billion plan for a mixed-use waterfront development in Baltimore that would include a new headquarters for Under Armour and be one of the biggest urban renewal projects in the United States is moving forward now that the City Council has approved a $660 million public financing package.
The tax increment financing (TIF) package, which would allow bonds to be sold to investors to help pay for the massive Port Covington project, was the first in many government approvals which will be needed over the next few decades, as Sagamore Development transforms an industrial peninsula in the Patapsco River into 15 million square feet of commercial development. Sagamore, which is a private company owned by Under Amour’s Founder & CEO Kevin Plank, is planning on building an expanded campus for Under Armour, the second largest sports apparel company in the U.S. The 260-acre project, which will also include offices, homes, stores, restaurants and approximately 40 acres of parks and open space, will take more than two decades to build out.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to sign the agreement for the TIF, which was approved by a majority of the City Council this week. The public financing plan will go toward building infrastructure and Sagamore will be required to repay the bonds through future property taxes.
The public financing plan did have some local opposition, with some complaining there would not be enough affordable housing and jobs for city residents. But a group of city and community leaders worked out a $135.9 million agreement that will address those concerns, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
City Comptroller Joan Pratt said in a statement that the modified memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sagamore will “include a significant percentage increase in affordable housing, minority equity participation, and a firm pledge to fund workforce development with greater opportunities for minority developers and professional firms.”
She added that the requirements “are a step toward creating a successful and valued Port Covington project.”
Sagamore, which proposed the project in January after spending several years quietly amassing property in the area off Interstate 95, expects the development will create between 10,000 and 25,000 jobs over the years and generate hundreds of millions in tax revenues.
Marc Weller, Sagamore president, said the company was grateful for the support of the City Council and community leaders who came together to get the legislation passed so the company could begin infrastructure work before the end of this year, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“We are excited to get started creating tens of thousands of jobs, generating long-term positive economic impact for Baltimore City and building this transformational, inclusive redevelopment, together,” he said in a prepared statement.