Baltimore’s Port Covington Out of the Running for Amazon’s Second Headquarters

| January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

Amazon announced on Thursday that it narrowed the list of potential cities/areas for its second headquarters in North America (Amazon HQ2) to 20, however Baltimore did not make the cut. Baltimore City and Maryland officials teamed with Sagamore Development Company last year on a proposal for the new campus at Port Covington.

Maryland officials will likely put their weight behind Montgomery County, which did make the final 20.

Governor Larry Hogan released the following statement:

“This is tremendous news for Montgomery County, our entire state, and further proof that Maryland is truly open for business. Maryland put forward an extremely strong group of sites that were all supported by the state with incentive packages totaling more than $5 billion, including road and transit improvements. Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County, including County Executive Ike Leggett and his team, to ensure that we do everything possible to bring this project home. This news is certainly welcome, but the real challenge lies ahead – and Maryland is ready to meet it.”

The 20 locations are:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • New York City
  • Northern Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of economic development in a statement. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh released the following statement:

“Naturally, like all Baltimoreans, I am disappointed that our city was not selected as among the finalists for Amazon’s new headquarters. We presented a comprehensive proposal that we were confident was compelling and competitive. I want to express my deep gratitude to the many business and civic leaders who invested their expertise, dedication and time to advance Baltimore’s prospects. While we may never know why our proposal was not successful, we will continue to accelerate the actions underway to improve the prospects of all our citizens.

“In no way will Amazon’s decision slow our pursuit of a strong growth agenda for Baltimore, as we work to attract new investment, quality job opportunities, and importantly, new residents to a city celebrated for its diversity, and its rich higher educational, athletic, cultural, medical, and maritime assets. Baltimore is a great city and we will not let up in all that we’re doing to realize our full potential.”

Marc Weller, President of Sagamore Development Company released the following statement:

“Obviously we’re disappointed. Baltimore is an amazing city, with second-to-none talent, that sits at the epicenter of innovation, education and commerce. The collective work of the City, State, community and business leaders on the Amazon HQ2 bid will undoubtedly help our City attract future businesses and commercial capital, and the Port Covington Development Team never slows in our efforts to bring new investment to Baltimore. We’re optimistic and keeping our eye on building for the future.” – Marc Weller, lead developer behind Port Covington and founding partner of Weller Development Company.

Amazon currently has a fulfillment center in Southeast Baltimore and another 855,000 sq. ft. center is planned for Tradepoint Atlantic at Sparrows Point in Baltimore County.

Baltimore and Sagamore officials were confident on October 18th when the bid was submitted, calling it a “shovel-ready” location. However despite today’s news, a redevelopment of Port Covington is moving forward with financing and tax incentives already in place.

Port Covington was approved for $534,795,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Bonds to pay for infrastructure, parks, and ecology improvements in Port Covington.

Port Covington is also part of a Baltimore City Enterprise Zone, which provides a 10-year tax credit on real property improvements with the credit decreasing 10% in years 6-10. It also includes hiring tax credits for businesses within the district as well as 10-year Brownfield Tax Credits for properties that complete the Maryland Department of the Environment voluntary cleanup or corrective action plan.

Port Covington’s Master Plan was approved last year by Baltimore City. The first round of major infrastructure improvements are projected to begin this year.

The State of Maryland also offered tax incentives for Amazon, but City and State officials were mum on those details.

Sagamore Development’s plan for Port Covington includes Under Armour’s 50-acre, 3.9 million sq. ft. global headquarters at the former Port Covington Shopping Center; 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, and potential sites for a post office, school, library, fire station, police paddock, and cultural center. The development includes 2.5 miles of waterfront along the Middle Branch.

Already completed at Port Covington is City Garage, a 133,000 sq. ft. former garage facility which is fully leased and described as “a hub for manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship;” Building 37, which converted the former Sam’s Club into a 170,000 sq. ft. Under Armour office building and amenity space; 240 W. Dickman St., which is undergoing renovations and will be the home of workforce development non-profits, including CityWide Youth Development and Potential ME; and, the four-building Sagamore Spirit whiskey distilleryPhase I of Under Armour’s new 50-acre campus is expected to be the next major construction project in Port Covington. 

This month, The Baltimore Sun announced it is finalizing a deal to move approximately 300 employees to its existing Sun Park facility at Port Covington. A renovation will take place to create a “state-of-the-art newsroom” and “flexible work stations to accommodate a more nimble sales structure.”

Other public space improvements including landscaping, a new mural, and on-street bicycle lanes have also been completed. Construction is also currently underway on a bike path.

For transportation and infrastructure, Sagamore is planning a light rail spur along McComas St. from Westport with three new stops; redevelopment of Hanover St., McComas St., and Cromwell St.; I-95 on-ramp and off-ramp modifications; bike share stations; three water taxi stops; and a site circulator that could be rail or bus. New on-street cycle lanes have already been installed in Port Covington.

Sagamore is also planning a walking/cycling bridge from the 1900 block of Light St. that would go over the CSX train track and under the I-95 bridges and land near The Baltimore Sun’s building. This is not planned in Chapter 1 of infrastructure improvements.

Sagamore recently partnered with Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group on a $233-million investment in the project.

Renderings courtesy of Sagamore Development  (click to enlarge)

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, 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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