Story by SouthBmore.com
This week Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank revealed to the Baltimore Business Journaland The Baltimore Sun that Under Armour will indeed build a new campus for its operations at Port Covington in South Baltimore.
When The Baltimore Sun broke the newsthat the Port Covington Shopping Center was sold to an undisclosed buyer in January of 2014, there was much excitement as a new plan finally seemed inevitable for an area that has often caused frustration and head scratching for South Baltimore residents. In its current state, Port Covington is a waterfront peninsula with some of the city’s most prime real estate that is only occupied by an abandoned Sam’s Club, parking lots filled with grass, and a Walmart.
SouthBMore.com wrote an article in 2012, one of the most-read in the site’s history, about why this development never flourished and why stores like Home Depot and Staples never joined the shopping center. Lack of accessibility and signage, as well as a delay in Maryland gambling, were noted in the article as to big reasons for the development’s failure.
This failure, however, paved the way for the announcement that this property, along with $90 million in real estate acquisitions totaling more than 128 acres (and potentially growing) by Plank’s real estate company Sagamore Development, would be part of a large mixed-use development that would include a campus for Under Armour’s headquarters.
From the Baltimore Business Journal (BBJ):
As much as 3 million square feet of space for Under Armour (NYSE: UA) use could be built in a first phase, Plank said, but he declined to get into specifics because a master plan for the area is not yet complete. Plank added that a large Under Armour retail store will be part of the development. The first element of the project, a 5-acre whiskey distillery that will produce Plank’s long-planned Sagamore Spirit whiskey brand, is set to open in late 2016.
To put three million sq. ft. of office space into perspective, Baltimore’s tallest building, the Transamerica Tower, could fill that space almost six times. Plank told BBJ the plan for Port Covington is also likely to include tall buildings.
Construction has been underway since the beginning of February on the former Sam’s Club building, which will be retrofitted for Under Armour offices. Plank told BBJ that the building will become space for Under Armour’s IT and finance department.
As far as existing businesses at Port Covington, Plank and development partner Marc Weller told The Baltimore Sun the following:
Sagamore is focused on developing the vacant land first, said Marc Weller, president of Sagamore Development. Negotiations with existing tenants on the site are continuing.
Plank said some, such as the Wal-Mart, may need to relocate to make way for the development.
Plank also told BBJ that the mixed-use development would eventually include housing.
The first new construction at Port Covington will be a distillery for Sagamore Spirit, Plank’s rye whiskey brand. The distillery will be constructed at 301 E. Cromwell St., located between Tidewater Marina and the shopping center, at the former site of aproposed Streuver Bros Eccles & Rouse development. Initial plans for the distillery, which Plank told BBJ will include a 10,000 sq. ft. restaurant, will be released this Thursday at a UDARP hearing.
Yesterday’s announcement confirms what many around the area believed to be inevitable. BBJ reported that the many purchases at Port Covington were under the name Marc Weller. When Weller wasrevealed as a partner with Sagamore Development when appearing before the Baltimore City Board of Estimates seeking approvals for the group’s other project, the Recreation Pier Hotel in Fells Point, many began to catch wind of Under Armour’s connection to Port Covington.
Now it is confirmed that Under Armour is indeed moving there as part of Sagamore’s large mixed-use development. And, as far as Under Armour’s current properties in Locust Point, Plank told BBJ:
Asked whether the entire Under Armour campus would eventually be located in Port Covington, Plank said, “Yeah, and it would be tied together with a store and mixed-use.
Plank told The Baltimore Sun, though, that any final decision involving Tide Point is years away.
SouthBMore.com has been asked many times over the past few months what will happen with Tide Point and what effect Under Armour’s potential departure will have on Locust Point. While the answer is unclear at this time, it is safe to assume that a waterfront office complex with its own boardwalk would always be a highly desired space.
After the sale of the Port Covington Shopping Center in January, SouthBMore.com posed the question to readers, “What would you like to see happen at Port Covington?” The choices were:
- Finish the shopping center
- A more upscale shopping center
- Mixed use with shopping, offices and residential
- A large residential community with light retail
- Port industries
- An entertainment destination
- A corporate headquarters
The desire for better shopping options in the area was very evident from the poll results. In an almost dead heat, ‘Mixed use with shopping, office and residential’ edged out ‘A more upscale shopping center’ by one vote. The two choices combined for 64% of the votes.
The real answer to that question turned out to be a mix of many of those options with a corporate headquarters as the anchor. Many South Baltimoreans will certainly get their wish for more shopping, offices and residential options though as all three will be coming to Port Covington in the future.
It will be an exciting couple of years for Port Covington and South Baltimore, and SouthBMore.com certainly looks forward to seeing the first renderings this Thursday.