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Locust Point residents cautious on Under Armour expansion

Residents of the Locust Point neighborhood that is home to the corporate headquarters of Under Armour Inc. are taking a cautious approach to the apparel company’s plan for extensive long-term expansion.

Representatives from Under Armour met with the Locust Point Civic Association Wednesday to discuss the expansion plans that would double the size of the existing headquarters in a multi-phase project. Under Armour paid $60.5 million for Tide Point, a former Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant that was redeveloped by C. William Struever and opened in 2001 as a waterfront home for high-tech firms.

Under Armour Executive Vice President of Business Development J. Scott Plank was unavailable for comment on Friday but said in a prepared statement that the company was planning the expansion to reflect the past and future growth of the company.

“As a global growth company, Under Armour is constantly evaluating its office resources and distribution needs in the Baltimore area and in other parts of the country to meet consumer demand,” Plank said in an email. “The brand is constantly evolving, creating new jobs as well as attracting and retaining top talent in the Baltimore area.”

Chris Ritsch, president of the Locust Point Civic Association, said most of the neighborhood’s residents are boosters of Under Armour, which was founded in 1996 and has grown to become a publicly traded company with more than $1 billion in sales annually. He said the association has formed a task force to study the plan, given its size and scope, especially considering it could add 1,200 employees on top of the 1,200 already there.

“We really are big fans of Under Armour — they’ve done a lot of good things,” Ritsch said. “When they approached us about the expansion, there was some apprehension. We’re really protective of the neighborhood, and this is not a small expansion they’re talking about.”

Ritsch said the association just wants to slow the process down some so the neighborhood can get a feel for the scope of it.

The 14.6-acre site has 400,000 square feet of developed space. The expansion would be carried out under a planned unit development, or PUD, a zoning exception that allows for heavier development than would normally be allowed. If approved by the city, the company could add another 400,000 square feet to the campus. The company’s first phase would be to build a 20,000-square-foot retail store at the site that would open in 2013. Subsequent expansion at the site would occur in phases in the coming years.

“I’m proud to have a company like this in my backyard,” Ritsch said. “We just want to make sure we’re comfortable with what they want to do. This is our home too, after all, and that is also important.”