Four new technology companies are moving to Port Covington’s City Garage and Impact Village in South Baltimore.
The new tenants are Olive, an artificial intelligence service specifically for health care; Conscious Venture Lab, an accelerator for startup businesses; LINQ, a provider of cellular communication services to companies; and CoFactor Venture, an equity firm that invests in local technology companies. Olive, Conscious Venture Lab and CoFactor Venture have already moved in, according to a spokesman for the development company shepherding the effort.
While City Garage and Impact Village are separate from the massive mixed-use project that began construction in 2019, the developer said the new tenants signal interest in the neighborhood from those in the technology sector.
“Our goal from the outset has been to create a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs and venture capital in Port Covington — to make connections, catalyze growth and create new opportunities in Baltimore City,” said Scooter Monroe, vice president and head of leasing for Weller Development Co., which is overseeing the work. “This region has a talent pool that can compete on a national level, and Port Covington is designed to help companies attract talent and grow.”
The Port Covington team finalized a $650 million financing deal last month, enabling construction on its next phase to move forward. The deal included $137 million in tax increment financing bonds to support the 235-acre project.
The team suspended work on the once-industrial South Baltimore riverfront site in April to protect worker safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporters of the redevelopment have long held that investment in Port Covington will activate the largely fallow swath of land along East Cromwell Street site on the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch, creating jobs, public parks and economic stimulation. Already, several potential tenants have posed laying the groundwork there for a cybersecurity hub dubbed “Cyber Town USA.”
The team imagines Port Covington, which includes City Garage and the Impact Village in addition to forthcoming retail, public park, office and residential space, as a future destination for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
City Garage, formerly the bus depot for Sagamore Ventures — the venture capital arm of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s private investment firm — was converted into space for startups and an innovation lab for the Baltimore-based athletic apparel brand in 2015.
Plank’s Sagamore Ventures, a lead investor in Port Covington, began assembling land about five years ago for a “mini-city” to be anchored by a new corporate campus for Under Armour. The sports apparel brand has its headquarters in Locust Point but has offices and a small manufacturing facility in Port Covington.
Plank brought in Weller to oversee Port Covington’s development. Goldman Sachs invested $233 million in 2017, becoming a partner on the project. But progress on Under Armour’s new headquarters has been put on hold as the brand worked through a turnaround plan to boost slumping sales in the United States.
Port Covington is among the most ambitious projects the city has undertaken, stoking a contentious debate in 2016 about subsidies, including the city’s pledge of $660 million in bonds.
More recently, the state included the project in the new federal opportunity zone program that offers tax breaks to investors for rolling their money into distressed neighborhoods.
Port Covington also is home to Plank’s Sagamore Spirit whiskey distillery and tavern, Nick’s Fish House, and The Baltimore Sun, which has a long-term lease with the developer for its newsroom and printing plant.
Weller has also entered into an agreement with Alexandria Real Estate, a firm that invests in offices and laboratories leased to tenants in the life science and technology industries, further opening up leasing opportunities in Port Covington.