Port Covington Deal to See Final Vote Next Week

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Just days after a major vote comes to a halt, the multi-million-dollar Port Covington deal finally wins preliminary approval from Baltimore City Council on Tuesday.

The ads have been blasted across the city–at times – the renderings seemed far from reality.

But the $5.5 billion plan to transform south Baltimore is now one step closer to becoming a reality.

“The redevelopment of Port Covington is a once in a generation opportunity for the city,” said Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries.

Port Covington includes housing, retail, parks and a new home for Under Armour, bringing thousands of jobs to the city.

The hitch has been $660-million in tax increment funding, which Sagamore asked the city for to help build.

Last week, the vote was supposed to pass, but at the last minute Councilman Stokes delayed it.

On Monday, Stokes had a different tune and says he’ll now vote for all three bills.

Stokes says it was a face-to-face meeting with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank that put some of his final concerns about the project to rest.

“[Kevin] said, ‘Carl I’m going do it, I’m going to do everything I said I’m going to do in terms of the community,’” says Stokes.

It’s a move some community advocates like BUILD Baltimore are now echoing.

“We moved from a goal of local hiring to a mandate of local hiring,” said Rev. Glenna Huber, with BUILD Baltimore

The organization notes, Sagamore Development has continued to up its offer and says the project has stalled long enough.

“Our vision it to build one Baltimore together,” said Huber.

Stokes says the reason he called for recess last week is because members never had a final copy of the agreement to read.

He believes this is the best deal Baltimore has ever had from a developer.

As part of the deal, Sagamore announced $100-million in community benefits and a 30-percent local hiring mandate.

Stokes says the petition was agreed to by 11 of the 15 council members and it overrides the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee that is chaired by him, which is why the agreement goes to an emergency vote.

If the Port Covington bill passes the council next week it will go to the mayor’s desk.

“We are grateful for the leadership of City Council President Jack Young, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, as well as all the support we’ve received from City leaders throughout this legislative process,” said Marc Weller, president of Sagamore Development. “We are humbled by the overwhelming support and excitement for Port Covington.  Baltimore and its leaders are ready for the tens of thousands of jobs and tremendous economic impact that will come from Port Covington.  Our motto has always been ‘We Will Build It Together’ and it is truly energizing to see communities rally around what will be a transformational, inclusive redevelopment and economic boon for Baltimore City. We look forward to Third Reader on the legislation next week.”

Sagamore has also agreed to give the city $39-million to six local neighborhoods as part of the deal.

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