The Greater Baltimore Committee has urged the City Council to pass a legislative package creating $535 million in public financing for the proposed Port Covington redevelopment.
The decision by GBC, an organization that advocates on issues surrounding economic growth and job creation, doesn’t come as a surprise. Kevin Plank, the Under Armour CEO who is backing the developer Sagamore Development Co., serves as the vice chair of the group’s board of directors.
“The Greater Baltimore Committee fully supports the proposed redevelopment of Port Covington by Sagamore Development Company as a visionary project that will transform Baltimore with substantial new jobs, economic activity and tax revenues, all of which would benefit the city for decades to come,” the group’s statement of support reads.
GBC issued its statement backing the use of tax increment financing of ahead of a key hearing for the legislative package by the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday at the War Memorial Building, at 101 N. Gay St.
Using tax increment financing to build infrastructure on roughly 260-acres of the south Baltimore peninsula to facilitate the development has become a controversial political topic in Baltimore.
Tax increment financing requires the city to issue bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements. An increase in property taxes from associated development, hopefully, will be used to repay the debt.
Groups critical of the project, primarily liberal activists and unions, argue the development will bring more residents and demands on city services that won’t paid for with property taxes from the development.
Some groups have also been critical of the costs associated with tax increment financing. The total bond issuance, which includes debt service reserve funds, cost of issuance and capitalized interest is capped at $660 million.
Sagamore Development Co. has proposed building a $5.5 billion mixed-use development on largely underused industrial land. Plans include 13,500 residential units, 200 hotel rooms and 1.5 million square feet of office space during the next 25-years. Under Armour also plans to build, independently, a 3.9-million-square-foot global headquarters.