New apartments, market and offices planned for Port Covington

Port Covington, the sprawling largely undeveloped waterfront property in South Baltimore, will get apartments, a market and offices in the first major phase of development, officials said Wednesday.

No new buildings are likely to open until late 2020 or early 2021, but this part of the overall project is planned to include 3 million square feet of new space, according to Marc Weller, a partner in Weller Development, which is overseeing the project on the 260-acre peninsula.

The set of buildings will join an Under Armour office building and the news and printing operations of The Baltimore Sun and other publications, as well as the Sagamore Spirit distillery and Rye Street Tavern. The Sun has a long-term lease on its facility with the developer.

No tenants were announced, though there are “a lot of incoming calls,” Weller said. Some tenants should be announced soon, and officials said leasing could affect the development time table.

“That speaks to the power of the waterfront,” said Weller, who said the interest was coming from both within the city, elsewhere in Maryland and outside the state.

For now, the first building, likely the market, is not slated to break ground until late next year or early 2020 after new infrastructure, including water and sewer lines and roads, are installed.

The infrastructure will be funded in part by municipal bonds expected to be sold in the first half of next year, said Steve Siegel, a partner in Weller Development.

The bonds were part of a controversial $660 million tax increment financing, or TIF, deal struck with the city in 2016. They will be repaid with the project’s property taxes deferred from city coffers.

Susan Yum, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Development Corp., said the development team is still working through city processes on designs and permits for the first buildings, and when they are further along, they will better understand their infrastructure needs.

She said it was premature to say the size of the first TIF request or when the bonds might be issued, but “sometime in 2019 seems reasonable.”

Developers called Port Covington a 25-year undertaking. The $5.5 billion project is envisioned as an entire new city neighborhood anchored by a new 50-acre Under Armour headquarters campus.

Port Covington is the brainchild of Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, who acquired the real estate over several years through his Sagamore Development. Last year, the New York investment bank Goldman Sachs became a partner in the project and Weller, who worked with Sagamore, formed Weller Development to lead the effort.

Developers couldn’t say how much this phase would cost, but it’s expected to include more than a dozen buildings that will all support each other — people living in the apartments who work on the site and shop in the market and other retail. The buildings will vary in height, but maintain a “human scale,” that doesn’t stack high-density buildings in close proximity.

The market building, for example, likely will be three stories and include space for a farmers market-type of design and include prepared food stalls. Two residential buildings are expected to contain about 260 market-rate and affordable units and rise seven to nine stories. That will allow most of the buildings to have extensive water views.

The phase, in total, is expected to include nearly 1.27 million square feet of office space, 269,000 square feet of retail space, almost 1.34 million square feet of residential space and a hotel of about 156,000 square feet.

If all goes as planned, there will be more phases as the project builds out over 25 years.

Officials said that they plan to continue holding events on the site, as they did all summer, to get area residents and those from other communities used to coming to the property, which briefly housed a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Several parks will be open to the public.

More paths for bike and pedestrian traffic are planned to safely connect the property to the South Baltimore neighborhoods of Locust Point and Federal Hill that are separated by an I-95 overpass and train tracks.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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