But, first things first, what is a TIF, really? In plain terms, a TIF is a funding tool used by cities to spur development. Usually, a developer (like Sagamore Development) comes to a city (like Baltimore) and starts talking some "The Simpsons"-style Monorail business, although it is usually something much less interesting than a monorail, like luxury condos or a new corporate campus, which is the case here. Sagamore Development says to the city, "We would love to develop this huge plot we purchased in South Baltimore and bring jobs and manufacturing and retail and affordable housing and tenants and everything else you could ever want in a Neighborhood Indicators report, but we can't afford to do the whole thing ourselves: we need money." So, Baltimore's elected sets about raising that money. The city raises the necessary funds by issuing bonds. The bonds will pay an interest rate to its investor on top of the principal like other types of investments.