Developers of the proposed $5.5 billion Port Covington project in South Baltimore began seeking design approval Thursday from a city architectural review board for the first set of buildings that could break ground late this year and open in 2021.
The first phase will contain two residential buildings with a combined 366 units and space for amenities and retail shops. Another building, the Rye Street Market, is a four-story, mixed-use complex with an open-air market and food hall, shops, offices and event space.
As envisioned, the project eventually would include 3 million square feet of space in apartments, offices, shops, restaurants and a hotel on the 260-acre waterfront peninsula. It would be anchored by an office campus for Under Armour, the Baltimore-based athletic brand whose founder and CEO, Kevin Plank, assembled the property.
The new buildings would 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.
The project is being overseen by Weller Development for the owners, which includes Weller, Plank’s Sagamore Development and the New York investment bank Goldman Sachs, which became a partner in the project in 2017.
Weller also unveiled plans in October to establish what the developer called Cyber Town USA, a cybersecurity hub anchored by three related firms that planned to move to the site.
First, the project will need infrastructure work, including water and sewer lines and a new road network, funded in part by municipal bonds expected to be sold this year. 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.
Designs for the first buildings are winding through the city’s approval process, which includes the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel.