Park­ing prob­lems arise for Un­der Ar­mour’s new cam­pus

Port Cov­ing­ton project met with con­cern from panel over huge garage’s de­sign

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Natalie Sher­man nsh­er­man@balt­sun.com

Park­ing prob­lems were one rea­son Un­der Ar­mour ex­ec­u­tives went look­ing for land out­side of Tide Point for the grow­ing sports ap­parel com­pany.

Now the is­sue has popped up again on their new Port Cov­ing­ton cam­pus.

The com­pany and its real es­tate team pre­sented plans to the city Thurs­day for the first phase of the new 50-acre head­quar­ters, ex­pected to in­clude about 500,000 square feet of of­fice build­ings, a wel­come cen­ter for visi­tors and a 1,500space park­ing garage.

The firm hopes to start con­struc­tion next year with the goal of open­ing the new build­ings, which in­clude two tow­ers, in three to four years, said Neil Jur­gens, vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate real es­tate for Un­der Ar­mour.

But mem­bers of the Ur­ban De­sign & Ar­chi­tec­ture Re­view Panel, an ad­vi­sory group ap­pointed by the city, said they are con­cerned about the cur­rent de­signs, wor­ried the park­ing garage will cre­ate a mas­sive wall where the cam­pus meets the pub­lic realm and im­pede fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

The de­signs call now for a struc­ture that would rise more than 100 feet and stretch hun­dreds of feet long, along a five-lane Penin­sula Drive, over­look­ing the Locke In­su­la­tor plant. One panel mem­ber com­pared the garage to a sky­scraper ly­ing on its side.

“You’re ask­ing us now to ap­prove this mass­ing and then as­sume some­how that ar­chi­tec­turally you’re go­ing to solve this prob­lem and make this ele­phant dis­ap­pear, or not make it as im­pos­ing as I be­lieve it will be,” said Richard Burns, an ar­chi­tect and panel mem­ber. “I’m re­ally trou­bled by this.”

De­bates over park­ing are a com­mon thread in nearly ev­ery de­vel­op­ment dis­cus­sion in the city. Park­ing is­sues cause fric­tion with neigh­bors, but garages in­crease de­vel­op­ment costs and of­ten cre­ate dead zones.

Jur­gens said the firm had tried to make the garage shorter in re­sponse to ear­lier com­ments. (It has the op­tion to build higher if nec­es­sary.)

But deputies of Un­der Ar­mour CEO Kevin Plank have made it clear that they be­lieve the prob­lems will only be re­solved when Bal­ti­more has pub­lic tran­sit op­tions good enough to con­vince peo­ple to give up their cars.

That will re­quire more pub­lic in­vest­ment than the city has seen his­tor­i­cally, said Marc Weller, pres­i­dent of Plank’s pri­vate real es­tate firm, Sag­amore De­vel­op­ment, which is over­see­ing the makeover of Port Cov­ing­ton acreage ad­ja­cent to the new Un­der Ar­mour cam­pus.

Sag­amore hopes to work with part­ners to build thou­sands of new homes, of­fices and re­tail space on Port Cov­ing­ton.

The firm is seek­ing pub­lic funds for a light rail spur and a cir­cu­la­tor around the penin­sula. The com­pany is work­ing on new bike paths — to be made from glow-in-thedark ma­te­rial — con­nect­ing to Port Cov­ing­ton.

Plank re­cently pur­chased the firm op­er­at­ing the city’s wa­ter taxis, which also are fea­tured in tran­sit plans for the penin­sula.

In a ques­tion-and-an­swer pe­riod Thurs­day at a real es­tate con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by Saul Ewing LLP at the Bal­ti­more Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, Char­lie Duff, pres­i­dent of the non­profit de­vel­oper Ju­bilee Bal­ti­more, sug­gested the project would ben­e­fit from a sub­way line run­ning from Penn Sta­tion to the site.

“There’s noth­ing we’d rather see,” said Weller, adding that he hopes the pledge by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture will ben­e­fit Bal­ti­more.

“I would hope that Pres­i­dent-elect Trump would con­sider Bal­ti­more at the top of the list,” he said.

The de­signs for the first phase of the Un­der Ar­mour head­quar­ters, by Bohlin Cy­win­ski Jack­son, will be pre­sented in more de­tail to the city be­fore Un­der Ar­mour can move for­ward.

Jur­gens de­clined to put a price tag on the in­vest­ment.

The new build­ings are ca­pa­ble of hous­ing up to 1,500 work­ers, said Jur­gens, adding that he ex­pects those to be new hires. The firm would main­tain its pres­ence at Tide Point dur­ing this phase, he said.

COUR­TESY UN­DER AR­MOUR

A ren­der­ing of the first phase of Un­der Ar­mour’s new Port Cov­ing­ton cam­pus, ex­pected to in­clude about 500,000 square feet of of­fices and a 1,500-car garage. Mem­bers of the Ur­ban De­sign & Ar­chi­tec­ture Re­view Panel, an ad­vi­sory group ap­pointed by the city, said they are wor­ried the park­ing garage will im­pede fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. One panel mem­ber com­pared the garage to a sky­scraper ly­ing on its side.

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