Scott Plank, the brother of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, has purchased numerous properties from a major commercial landlord near Hollins Market in Southwest Baltimore, according to another developer and others involved in the community.
Land records show more than 30 properties in the area, many of them owned by James Collins of Pantanal Properties, were sold last month, many on the same day, for more than $3.1 million. The buyers, nine separate limited liability companies, share an attorney, address and articles of incorporation, which in eight cases were filed with the state within two hours of each other.
Developer Bill Struever, who has worked with Scott Plank on several projects and whose firm recently started an $11.5 million renovation of the nearby Lion Brothers Building, said Plank was the purchaser of the Collins properties.
"I think it's a great thing that Scott's doing," he said. "I'm totally excited about it. It's terrific for Southwest Baltimore."
Plank was traveling, said Tisha Edwards, an executive vice president at his private real estate firm, War Horse. She did not respond to requests for comment on the deals. Collins and attorney Herbert Burgunder III, the agent of the LLCs, also declined to comment.
The properties sold, many of them commercial, line the blocks around Hollins Market, in an area roughly defined by Baltimore Street to the north, Lombard Street to the south, Arlington Avenue to the east and South Carrollton Avenue to the west, according to land records.
The purchases have fueled intense speculation in the close-knit neighborhood, which has suffered from vacancy, crime and other neglect, despite periodic interest from private investors and proximity to the University of Maryland BioPark.
Michael Seipp, executive director of the Southwest Partnership umbrella group, a nonprofit created to steer resources to that part of the city, said his organization has had informal conversations with Plank's team but does not know the details of the deal.
"We don't quite know the magnitude of the investment," he said. "We look forward to working with them to help make our neighborhoods the best they can be."
Plank, who studied urban planning at the University of Maryland, started his career working on multifamily projects at Freddie Mac. He worked for Under Armour until 2012, when he turned his focus to his own real estate investments.
His firm, War Horse, is involved in projects such as Belvedere Square, the new Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel underway in Fells Point, and several apartment buildings in Locust Point. It has received accolades for The Hall, a conversion of a former San Francisco strip club and billiard parlor into a food hall.
His family foundation is contributing to the $2.4 million overhaul of the Western District police station, announced this spring, and has made other investments in the city.
Plank also has considered investing in Hollins Market, the public market that gives its name to the neighborhood, but it's not clear where that proposal stands. Representatives of the Baltimore Public Markets Corp., the quasi-public nonprofit that oversees Hollins and other city markets, declined to comment.
The Hollins Roundhouse Neighborhood Association is working to set up a meeting with Plank to discuss his plans, board members said.
"Nobody's talked to us, and it's the center of our neighborhood," said Kirstin Ramsay, a member of the board who lives near the market, adding that she was speaking for herself and not for the neighborhood association. "There's absolutely some benefit to having development of vacant buildings in our neighborhood, but the worry … is the displacement of our small businesses and our people."
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The deals come amid other signs of interest in the Southwest Baltimore area, including Struever's Cross Street Partners Lion Brothers Building. It will host a groundbreaking celebration next month.
Seipp said HomeFree-USA, Enterprise Homes and Unity Properties, the housing arm of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, also are working on plans for vacants in the area.
Other projects have moved slowly. The city granted another extension last month to La Cite, which was selected more than 10 years ago to lead a major redevelopment in Poppleton but has not moved forward with the plans.
Plank's representatives recently toured the properties. Zella's Pizzeria co-owner Julie Ernstsaid she met Edwards and hopes the new team will be able to attract more business to the area.
"The neighborhood's been needing a lot of help for a long time, and I think he probably has the resources to make the improvements that we would like to see," she said. "Once we have a community meeting, we'll have more awareness of what the agenda is."