Port Covington Master Plan Receives Overwhelming Support at Public Hearing

| June 3, 2016 | 2 Comments

Sagamore Development’s Port Covington Master Plan received overwhelming support on Wednesday at its Presentation and Public Testimony at the Baltimore City Planning Department. Following the presentation, Planning Department Chairman Wilbur Cunningham asked for a show of hands from those in the crowd who support the plan and nearly everyone in the room raised their hand. There were only two people in opposition.

The plan includes Under Armour’s 50-acre, 3.9 million sq. ft. global headquarters; 1,500,000 sq. ft. of destination, attraction, entertainment and specialty retail; more than 7,500 residential units, which could total up to 14,000 units, including rental and for-sale properties at various price-points; 500,000 sq. ft. of “maker” and industrial/light manufacturing space; 200-plus hotel rooms; 1,500,000 sq. ft. of office space (in addition to the Under Armour Global Headquarters); and civic and cultural uses including 40-plus acres of public parks, a public waterfront, and other public facilities. Sagamore currently owns 161 acres of land in Port Covington, which it described as 85% of the private parcels in the area, from recent real estate acquisitions totaling $114 million.

For transportation and infrastructure Sagamore is planning a Light Rail spur from Westport; redevelopment of Hanover St., McComas St., and Cromwell St.; I-95 on-ramp and off-ramp modifications; pedestrian/bike bridges from South Baltimore and Westport; bike share stations; three water taxi stops; and a site circulator that could be rail or bus. This plan will still need to be approved by the Baltimore City Council and Mayor.

The project is expected to take more than 20 years.

The presentation was followed by testimony from the public. Michael Middleton from the Cherry Hill Community Coalition pledged his support for the project. Middleton was also representing the SB6, a coalition of Cherry Hill, Westport, Mt. Winans, Lakeland, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay – the six South Baltimore neighborhoods south of the Middle Branch. “This is the most under-served area of Baltimore City, the armpit,” said Middleton. “We applaud this opportunity. There has been a lack of opportunity in this part of the city and this is a transformation for the entire region. Sagamore has been in discussions with us and wants a partnership.”

Wayne Frazier of the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association called it “the most transformative master plan I’ve ever seen” during his testimony.

“Port Covington is a forgotten place,” he added. “This is brilliant and represents a whole new Baltimore.”

Dr. Johnnie Simpson, president and CEO of VETSCON which represents veterans, pledged his support for the plan and said he looks forward to Port Covington giving back to veterans.

Davon Barbour of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore said the plan sends a powerful message to the national real estate market and noted that projects like this will allow Downtown to continue to thrive.

Alvin J. Gwynn Sr., a Baltimore pastor who has worked in construction for more than 50 years including work on the development of Columbia, MD, also pledged his support. “We all need to rise in support. I’m looking froward to the phases of this project,” he said.

John Pare, president of the Riverside Neighborhood Association and Executive Director of National Federation of the Blind located just across the train tracks from Port Covington at 200 E. Wells St., said walking to Port Covington as it is currently laid out “puts his life at risk.” He noted five points for his support: revitalization of the area; improved pedestrian friendliness, which he described as helping the parking problem in South Baltimore; an increase in park space; job creation; and, economic development.

Peter Perini, who drove down from Hagerstown, said “as goes Baltimore, goes the State of Maryland. This provides an economic impact for the entire state. When you have this opportunity, you take it.”

Lynn Fitzpatrick of African Diaspora Maritime also gave her support. She represents a group of black mariners who aspire to compete in The America’s Cup. She’s hoping to activate their sailing team in Baltimore, hopefully in Port Covington.

Several other speakers pledged their support for the project citing increased access with water taxis and rising property values for the entire area. Others expressed their interest in affordable housing at the project. Sagamore has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with Baltimore City with a goal of 10% affordable housing units at the development.

Two members of the crowd expressed their reservations. Activist Kim Truehart said she wants to support the plan, but feels it portrays an image of two Baltimores and that rules are changed when they benefit a developer. Anthony Williams, who said he represents homeless groups, said he hopes to see $200 million in housing vouchers funded for the homeless.

The Baltimore City Planning Department is allowing until June 16th for public comment before making a decision on approval. Comments can be sent to plan@baltimorecity.gov.


Rendering Courtesy of Sagamore Development 

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