Port Covington Touted as “Cyber Town USA” as Three Startup-Building Companies Announced for Chapter 1

| October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

Today at a press event in Port Covington, Mike Janke of DataTribe said that the South Baltimore development is about to become “Cyber Town USA.” Janke is relocating his cyber startup studio from Fulton, MD to Port Covington during the first phase of Chapter 1, which is expected to open in late-2020 or early-2021. DataTribe is joined by AllegisCyber and Evergreen Advisors as the first three announced companies for Chapter 1.

The 235-acre Port Covington development is owned by Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development Company and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.  Weller Development is leading the development and construction.

AllegisCyber is a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity venture capital firm with a fund of about $400 million. The company is led by founder and managing director Bob Ackerman who started the company more than 15 years ago. Ackerman is relocating his headquarters from Silicon Valley to Baltimore because he said this is where the cyber talent is located. He noted that the cost of living for startups and individuals is also much lower here in Maryland.

Evergreen Advisors is a Columbia, MD-based investment banking and corporate advisory firm focused on “assisting emerging growth and middle market companies.” Evergreen Advisors is also relocating its headquarters to Port Covington.

AllegisCyber, DataTribe, and Evergreen Advisors will work together to build up Port Covington as a hub of cybersecurity. Ackerman said that Maryland has a lot of cyber engineering talent, but doesn’t have the same business ecosystem as Silicon Valley, and that he’s hoping to change that.

Janke said that the trio of businesses are already has 28 companies committed to moving to Port Covington and expect up to 50-60 companies ready to move in when the first buildings open two years from now. Janke expects Port Covington to have just under 1,000 cyber security employees by the time the first phase of the development opens.

Ackerman and Janke also noted that they are in talks with large cybersecurity companies looking to bring a second headquarters to Port Covington. Some second headquarters could bring up to 600 employees to the development. Janke said that DataTribe and AllegisCyber will also look to build three to four new companies a year.

“Maryland is home to the world’s most advanced cybersecurity and data science coming out of the U.S. Intelligence agencies, R&D labs and commercial innovation centers,” said Janke is a press release. “Maryland has the largest cyber workforce in the world, with more than 109,000 cyber-related engineering and data science professionals. Port Covington will become home to Cyber Town, USA as a leading technology hub not only for entrepreneurs and engineering talent, but also for the resources necessary for them to be successful. DataTribe will continue to build on this rich ecosystem for commercial cybersecurity and data science companies at Port Covington.”

Port Covington will have a secure, redundant, private fiber optic loop that will provide “reliable, state-of-the-art, gigabit-speed internet connective and site-wide public WiFi service.” This loop will be added when new infrastructure begins at Port Covington next year. Weller officials noted that this has made Port Covington appealing to cybersecurity firms. Janke noted that a development owning its own fiber will make it one of the most secure connections in the world.

“This first wave of companies coming to Port Covington represents an ever-growing sector of the economy that is leading us all into the future,” said Marc Weller, partner of Weller Development Company and lead developer of Port Covington, in a press release. “All aspects of the technology life cycle will plant a flag at Port Covington. Port Covington will be a magnet for growing, innovative companies – an inclusive community for tech-forward companies to work together to bring ideas to reality, from development to full market maturity. These businesses are leaving Silicon Valley, an area thought to be the nation’s tech capital, in order to become part of something new and exciting here. Why? Because Port Covington has it all: prime waterfront location, connectivity, an abundance of existing dynamic tech talent and an entrepreneurial ethos focused on future growth.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, and Councilman Eric Costello were on hand today along with additional area leaders and business professionals.

“With Maryland’s highly talented workforce, cutting-edge research institutions, and more and more innovative companies locating here each year, no state is better equipped or better positioned to be the cyber and innovation capital of our nation,” said Governor Larry Hogan in press release. “This new development at Port Covington will further spur development of cyber companies, bringing much-needed jobs, capital investment, and business opportunities to Baltimore City and our state.”

Janke raved about the improved business climate in Maryland since Governor Hogan started making reforms and how much easier it is now to build and grow companies . He hopes the same focus on business continues if there are any changes in Maryland’s leadership.

“To the cyber and tech companies already here, and yet to come, we wish to reaffirm that Baltimore is your home and resource for talent and capability,” said Mayor Pugh in a press release. “Ours is a city committed to innovation and entrepreneurship, and we’re determined to foster a work-life environment that appeals as much to the growing millennial population as it does Baltimoreans whose families have been here for generations. Port Covington provides an ideal location with abundant available space and build-to-suit opportunities – ideal for creating a 21st Century cyber and tech ecosystem. We are delighted to welcome DataTribe, AllegisCyber and Evergreen Advisors and we look forward to the many more to come.”

Chapter 1 at Port Covington will tackle the eastern section of Port Covington in the grass lots just east of The Baltimore Sun’s Sun Park along E. Cromwell St. It will have 3.025 million sq. ft. of new buildings across more than 12 city blocks.

The first phase of Chapter 1 will be called Rye Street Market. This will be a multi-block, mixed-used development across from the Sagamore Spirit Distillery on E. Cromwell St. Rye Street Market is highlighted by a large food market sharing the same name. The market will be on the first floor of a block that will have four different buildings connected by a courtyard. This block will bring 180,000 sq. ft. of office space and retail. The second block just to the southeast will feature two residential apartment buildings that will include about 260 apartments in 277,000 sq. ft.

The $5.5-billion Port Covington master plan 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.

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.

Weller Development 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 Sun Park. It is also rebuilding the Spring Garden Bridge for pedestrians to connect Westport to Port Covington.

Already completed at Port Covington in Phase 1A is City Garage, which redeveloped an existing building in 2015 into a 133,000 sq. ft. office building that is “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 underwent some renovations and is now the home to workforce development non-profits; and the four-building Sagamore Spirit whiskey distillery which includes Rye Street Tavern, and renovations the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina and Nick’s Fish House. 

The Port Covington team has also made public space improvements which include landscaped medians, taking over maintenance of West Covington Park where it added outdoor bar South Point, a new mural, and adding new off-street and on-street bike and pedestrian paths.

Councilman Eric Costello, Steve Siegel of Weller Development, Mike Janke of DataTribe, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Mark Weller of Weller Development, Governor Larry Hogan, Margaret Anadu of Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger

Port Covington Chapter 1 renderings courtesy of Weller Development (click to enlarge)

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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, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.