A large waterfront parcel in Port Covington sold for $2 million in 2012 to an investor who declined to identify himself.
Then a second large property sold nearby. Then a third. Each time, the investor's identity was hidden behind hard-to-trace limited liability companies.
Speculation abounded. Who was the mystery buyer? What was being planned in South Baltimore?
Keisha Allen, head of the nearby Westport Neighborhood Association, fired off a letter to her city councilman that foreshadowed the fights to come.
"'When it's time to sit down with this developer … you need to make sure we have a seat at the table,'" Allen recalled writing. "I knew...