July 27, 2016 – The Greater Baltimore Committee announces that it fully supports the proposed redevelopment of Port Covington by Sagamore Development Company as a visionary project that will transform Baltimore with substantial new jobs, economic activity and tax revenues, all of which would benefit the city for decades to come.
In a position statement to be provided to members of the Baltimore City Council, the GBC urges that the proposed project be embraced and provided the public funding and other support it needs from city officials and agencies to move forward.
With this in mind, the GBC encourages the Baltimore City Council to pass three proposed bills that will effectively establish $535 million in public tax-increment financing (TIF) to help the developer build needed infrastructure for the project, such as roads, parks and bike paths.
A failure to approve the TIF would be a missed opportunity for the city and its residents, as the developer would be unlikely to proceed with the project without the TIF.
“States and major cities across America salivate for visionary economic development projects like Port Covington to come their way,” said Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the GBC. “Baltimore City simply cannot afford to lose this development opportunity.”
The project has been reviewed in detail by multiple parties, including outside experts in municipal finance, the Baltimore Development Corporation, numerous city agencies, community representatives and business leaders. In addition, the city’s Planning Commission has unanimously approved a master plan for the project.
“It’s been an engaging and informative process with many points of view given a fair hearing,” Fry said. “But it’s time for the City Council to embrace and approve this project so it can move forward with creating jobs and transforming an entire area of the city that is overdue for investment and ripe for new job and economic opportunities.”
The GBC’s position statement highlights that Port Covington has the potential to define Baltimore, nationally and internationally, much like the redevelopment of the city’s Charles Center and Inner Harbor areas did in the 1970s and 1980s. The GBC supported and championed both of those transformative projects.
Additionally, if the TIF is approved, the ensuing redevelopment of 260-acres of underutilized property at Port Covington would involve one of the largest infusions of private-sector investment in the city in decades. That investment – an estimated $4 billion – would include a new global headquarters campus for Under Armour.
The Under Armour headquarters itself would create thousands of new jobs and further establish the Baltimore region as a center of innovation and new business activity, according to the GBC.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Baltimore,” Fry said.
While the requested TIF is a considerable amount, the GBC believes that the economic impact and job opportunities the project would create outweigh any risk to the city or taxpayers.
Debt service on bonds established to fund the Port Covington TIF will come initially from special taxes paid by the developer and other investors, and eventually with future property tax revenues generated by new housing, offices, shops and other development. Once the bonds are fully repaid, Port Covington property tax revenues will flow into city coffers for a wide range of government spending priorities.
The GBC statement of support also notes the project’s solid financial backing and Sagamore’s commitment to the city and nearby communities, including $39 million in investment agreements with six nearby neighborhoods for initiatives such as local hiring.
“This is a unique economic opportunity for Baltimore that will pay dividends far into the future,” Fry said. “It is important that this project receives the necessary governmental approvals so the developer can turn this visionary plan into a national economic showcase for Baltimore.”
Read the GBC’s position statement here.