Rawl­ings-Blake signs off on Port Cov­ing­ton’s pub­lic fi­nanc­ing

$660 mil­lion in bonds to go to­ward in­fra­struc­ture work

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Yvonne Wenger ywenger@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/yvon­newenger

Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake com­mit­ted the city Wednes­day to $660 mil­lion in pub­lic fi­nanc­ing for roads, util­i­ties and other in­fra­struc­ture at Port Cov­ing­ton, site of Un­der Ar­mour CEO Kevin Plank’s $5.5 bil­lion wa­ter­front de­vel­op­ment — a step she called “one of the most sig­nif­i­cant mile­stones of Bal­ti­more’s mod­ern his­tory.”

Flanked by City Coun­cil mem­bers, Plank’s deputies and com­mu­nity ac­tivists, Rawl­ings-Blake signed leg­is­la­tion that au­tho­rizes the city to is­sue tax­payer-backed bonds to help pay for im­prove­ments around the sprawl­ing project that sup­port­ers say will trans­form a largely in­dus­trial South Bal­ti­more penin­sula with of­fices, shops, homes, man­u­fac­tur­ing space and a new Un­der Ar­mour cam­pus.

“We are set­ting the stage for a stronger Bal­ti­more,” the mayor said. “We’re mo­bi­liz­ing our re­sources to build hope, to build op­por­tu­nity and eq­uity for all of our res­i­dents.

“Port Cov­ing­ton will be a cat­alytic project.”

Wil­liam H. Cole IV, the mayor’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment chief, said the de­vel­op­ment of Port Cov­ing­ton will be­gin cre­at­ing new jobs im­me­di­ately.

“They are al­ready work­ing down there,” he said. “We will see heavy ac­tiv­ity within the next six months.”

Cole said a profit-shar­ing agree­ment be­tween the city and Sag­amore De­vel­op­ment Co. — Plank’s pri­vate real es­tate com­pany — is ex­pected to come be­fore the city’s spend­ing panel by the end of the year. Un­der the terms, the city will get a quar­ter of the profit from the de­vel­op­ment, af­ter the first 15 per­cent of profit.

Sag­amore Pres­i­dent Marc Weller said the com­pany con­sid­ers re­li­gious lead­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers to be long-term part­ners on the deal.

“We are hit­ting the ground run­ning and ex­cited to get started cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of jobs, gen­er­at­ing long-term pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact for Bal­ti­more City and build­ing this trans­for­ma­tional, in­clu­sive re­de­vel­op­ment, to­gether,” Weller said in a state­ment.

Plank did not at­tend the bill sign­ing. Weller at­tended but did not speak.

Sag­amore signed a $100 mil­lion com­mu­nity ben­e­fits agree­ment this month that re­quires the com­pany to hire lo­cal work­ers, build or fund af­ford­able hous­ing and pro­vide money to train work­ers and fund no-in­ter­est loans for mi­nor­ity- or womenowned star­tups.

The agree­ment was ne­go­ti­ated by city of­fi­cials and groups in­clud­ing Bal­ti­more­ans United in Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment, the In­ter­de­nom­i­na­tional Min­is­te­rial Al­liance, the Pro­gres­sive Bap­tist Con­ven­tion of Mary­land and six neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tions near Port Cov­ing­ton.

The land in­cludes the site of The Bal­ti­more Sun’s print­ing plant. The Sun has a long-term lease on the prop­erty.

Sag­amore agreed to hire city res­i­dents for at least 30 per­cent of all in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion work, pay a wage of at least $17.48 an hour, and set aside 20 per­cent of hous­ing units for poor and mid­dle-class fam­i­lies (40 per­cent of such hous­ing may be built else­where in the city).

Op­po­nents, in­clud­ing the ad­vo­cacy group Mary­land Work­ing Fam­i­lies, sev­eral la­bor unions and the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Mary­land, say the deal does too lit­tle to help Bal­ti­more’s poor.

City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Bernard C. “Jack” Young said jobs, af­ford­able hous­ing and other ben­e­fits will make the project a boon. “This is go­ing to cat­a­pult Bal­ti­more well into the next cen­tury,” he said.

KIM HAIRSTON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake, with City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Bernard C. “Jack” Young be­hind her, join com­mu­nity and busi­ness lead­ers for a sign­ing cer­e­mony of three pieces of leg­is­la­tion for the Port Cov­ing­ton project.

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