BUILD says “Not so fast” to Port Covington project
A community organization wants the Baltimore City Council to put the brakes on the multi-billion dollar Port Covington project. Baltimore United in Leadership Development, or BUILD, called Tuesday for an independent financial analysis to be completed first.
The $5.5 billion project, proposed by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, would change the landscape of Port Covington in South Baltimore. It would place Under Armour’s global headquarters there along with homes and businesses and a hotel.
And Plank’s development firm, Sagamore, wants more than $1 billion in government help to do it. That includes $535 million from the city in the form of tax-increment financing. The city would float that much in bonds for infrastructure projects that would be repaid from property taxes from the project.
BUILD co-chair Reverend Andrew Foster Connors says an independent agency needs to run the numbers before the city makes that kind of commitment.
"Baltimore Citizens have every reason to have a full vetting of this," he said. "How could it hurt at this point to truly understand if the numbers add up."
A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said an independent analysis has already been done. But BUILD countered that one doesn't count, because it was paid for by the developer.
BUILD also wants a meeting with Plank to discuss other issues.
For instance, BUILD wants a guarantee that 51 percent of all jobs at Port Covington will be filled by city residents. The mayor says she supports the Port Covington project because it will mean thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenues. But Rev. Connors says the city has a history of diving into projects with big promises that aren’t kept.