Highlights from a Discussion with Leaders of Plank Industries

| November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

SouthBMore.com was invited yesterday to attend the 8th Annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center. Demian Costa, managing partner of Sagamore Ventures, and Marc Weller, president of Sagamore Development, talked about the Port Covington development and the companies’ investments in Baltimore. Both organizations are part of Plank Industries which is the larger entity that manages all the Sagamore brands and is owned by Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank.

Weller and Costa

mweller-headshot-outside demiancosta

Here’s what we learned:

How they met and partnered with Kevin Plank

Weller met Plank through his best friend Billy McDermond who attended Fork Union Military with Plank. McDermond is now a co-founder, along with Plank, of Sagamore Spirit. Plank offered Weller a job selling with Under Armour early on, but Weller passed. He did however accept Plank’s offer a few years ago to join Sagamore Development and to help find a new campus for Under Armour. This eventually led to Sagamore’s 260-acre Master Plan for Port Covington.

Costa has a background in venture capital and met Plank while doing work with Under Armour 11 years ago. The two became close as workout partners. Plank loved Costa’s fitness background as a former U.S. Navy Seal.

Sagamore Ventures is Plank’s venture capital arm led by Costa, who also developed City Garage, the fully-leased incubator for makers and manufacturers in Port Covington. “Kevin told me the find the best companies you can and bring them to Baltimore,” said Costa.

Costa noted they haven’t pursued companies because of their ability to pay rent, but for what they can do for Baltimore.

The water taxi 

“Kevin looked at the Baltimore Water Taxi out the window of his office and said there’s got to be a better way,” said Costa. Plank had seen great water taxis in cities like Sydney and Vancouver.

Plank Industries announced it would be taking over Harbor Boating, Inc. and Baltimore Water Taxi this summer. Plank Industries’ new contract with Baltimore City includes additional routes, extended commuter hours, and an increase in the number of stops from the current 12 to 21 beginning in the 2017 season.

Costa noted they looked all over the world for the best water taxi boat builder and were inspired by the design of the deadrise-style fishing boats of the Chesapeake Bay. The best fit was MAPC, a maritime design and manufacturing company located near the South Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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What inspires them?

Weller and Costa are inspired by traveling to other cities and bringing ideas back to Baltimore. “I’m inspired every day by everything I see going on in Baltimore and in the United States. I go to places like Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Boston and see so many incredible things and come back with 10 fresh ideas every time,” said Weller.

“Marc has been catapulted around the entire globe the last three years looking at every concept you can imagine with the simple goal from Kevin of bringing the best concept in the world here to Baltimore,” said Costa.

“We’re going to make Port Covington so attractive that when your sitting somewhere else in the country thinking about moving your campus or company, we’re going to be in the top five on your list,” added Costa. “Not just because of what we are building here, but because the rest of the city is going to elevate the game too.”

Beginning affordable housing

In Sagamore Development’s Community Benefits Agreement with Baltimore City it has agreed to fund 20% affordable housing with at least 12% on site. Weller noted Sagamore is already working on affordable housing projects off-site and that it is excited to announce details some time next year. He also noted affordable housing on-site would be integrated into market-rate buildings, not as standalone buildings.

Events at Port Covington

Weller mentioned making Port Covington a hub for great events. Sagamore wants to have more than 20 events every year, including some major events, and 52 weekends of activity a year according to Weller. He told SouthBMore.com the events could be a way to activate spaces that have not yet been developed. He also said new amenities and parks needed for these events will be constructed in the near future.

On President-Elect Trump and Mayor-Elect Pugh

Weller was optimistic about President-Elect Donald Trump and Baltimore City Mayor-Elect and current State Senator Catherine Pugh. “One thing I feel really good about is that President-Elect Trump wants to invest in our country and infrastructure which I think is so badly needed. You see the condition of the roads and airports in other countries and it makes you realize that we are really falling behind,” he said. “I see it as a really good thing and I think he’ll prioritize Baltimore as we need a lot of infrastructure improvements.”

The Port Covington Master Plan is seeking $573,683,000 in funding from the Federal Government for infrastructure improvements.

Weller was also excited about Senator Pugh, who the Sagamore team has worked with closely. “Catherine is great. She’s going to be a great mayor.”

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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