Sagamore’s Port Covington TIF Plan Receives Unanimous Approval from Planning Commission

| July 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Sagamore Development’s 260-acre Port Covington development took another step forward as its plan to finance new infrastructure, parks, and ecology improvements received unanimous approval by the Baltimore City Planning Department’s Planning Commission.

To pay for infrastructure improvements at Port Covington, Sagamore’s proposal includes spending $327,780,988 of its own money on infrastructure and a $534,795,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds from Baltimore City. Under Armour, however, has pledged to not use any TIF proceeds for the infrastructure at its campus.

A TIF is a bond issued to Baltimore City or any other jurisdiction that is leveraged and backed by a real estate development. TIFs use the increased property tax revenues at the development to pay off the bonds. When the bonds are paid off, all property tax revenues go to the city coffers, but the current property tax revenues at the current rates continue to go to the city. Sagamore would be paying the same 2.24% property tax rate on all of its properties and on its future assessments, but much of those funds will go to the bonds to pay for the infrastructure. Baltimore City would own the newly-built infrastructure and parks once they are completed. To note, TIF bonds cannot be used for other projects and initiatives around the city; they must be used by the project that backs them.

The TIF would pay for more than 40 acres of parks and plazas; the construction of pedestrian bridges, piers, and trails; the creation of new streets and sewers creating 45 new city blocks; the redevelopment of Hanover St. from Wells St. to the Hanover Street Bridge; the redevelopment of McComas St. and Cromwell St.; changes to Key Hwy.; and a circulating rail line in Port Covington.

Testimony was heard by both supporters and and opponents of the TIF request. Opponents expressed a desire to slow the process down and supporters, including those from the South Baltimore Six (SB6) which signed a community benefits agreement earlier in the day, highlighted the need for investment and jobs in South Baltimore.

The TIF’s impact on the Maryland public school funding formula and its impact on Baltimore City Public Schools was a popular topic of discussion. John Laria, who was representing Sagamore said, “we have no interest in our TIF bonds effecting school funding, we will not take the bonds if it is not fixed.” There is currently a three-year fix that was passed in the Maryland General Assembly and Laria said they are confident a long-term solution will be reached.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the bond request, signifying its recommendation to the Baltimore City Council for when it makes the final decision. The plan has also been recommended by the Baltimore Development Corporation.

The decision was made following a three-hour public hearing and, in part, from the recommendation for approval by the staff of the Baltimore City Planning Department.

Sagamore hopes to use the TIF bonds to also seek matching funds from state in the amount of $349,459,500 and from the federal government in the amount of $224,223,500. These funds would be used to assist in funding projects in the TIF along with a Light Rail connection to the Westport Light Rail Station; I-95 modifications, including new ramps and exits; and a CSX tunnel crossing.

Sagamore’s plan for Port Covington 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; 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. It also includes more than 7,500 residential units, which could total up to 14,000 units comprised of rental and for-sale properties at various price-points. Sagamore has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city to provide affordable housing in 10% of the units. The plan also includes potential sites for a post office, school, library, fire station, police paddock, and cultural center.

The Master Plan recently received approval from the Baltimore City Planning Commission.

Sagamore has already spent $140 million at Port Covington on planning and land acquisition of Phase I projects including City Garage, Nick’s Fish House, the under-construction Sagamore Spirit distillery, and a new bike bath connecting the South Baltimore neighborhood to Port Covington through West End. East Waterfront Park is expected to begin construction this year.

Sagamore Development President Marc Weller said he hopes infrastructure improvements start in mid-2017, pad site development begins in mid-2018, and vertical real estate development begins in mid-2019. The next phase of Under Armour’s campus will begin construction next year.

Rendering Courtesy of Sagamore Development 

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Before and after using a Google Maps screenshot and a Sagamore Conceptual Rendering 

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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