BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It wasn’t the best weather to stage a groundbreaking. Even with a tent, seats got wet, and the heavy construction equipment brought in as props were pretty much ignored.
But it didn’t leave developer Marc Weller discouraged.
“It also rained on my wedding day. I’m still married 20 years later.” Weller said.
It may well take another 20 years for the lead developer of the Port Covington project to completely build out one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country.
A groundbreaking formalized the start of major construction on infrastructure and buildings, where high tech jobs will mix with housing and retail spaces.
“Not just in words but in deeds,” said Baltimore Mayor Jack Young. “And I can truthfully tell you that has really happened.”
To reach this goal, developers received hundreds of millions of dollars in tax assistance from the City. In return, the project provides half a dozen South Baltimore communities with redevelopment opportunities.
Mike Middleton, the chairman of the Cherry Hill Community Coalition, said he has seen those opportunities firsthand.
“I think the opportunity of affordable housing, new affordable housing, the opportunity for jobs, which they’ve demonstrated time and time again. Opportunities for food coming into what are food deserts.” Middleton said.
This project will include more than brick and mortar. For residents in South Baltimore, it’s a new way to get around.
“We’re creating a $2 flat fare zone for South Baltimore through Lyft. You can get anywhere you want in South Baltimore during business hours, during commuter hours for $2.” Weller said.
From trips to doctors to stores, eventually even Port Covington.