Mayor says Port Covington not a rush job | WYPR

Mayor says Port Covington not a rush job

Aug 1, 2016

An artist's rendering of the Port Covington development
Credit Sagamore Development

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake took issue Monday with those who say the city is rushing to approve the $5.5 billion Port Covington project. The mayor disagreed with critics who charge the proposal has not been thoroughly studied.

Appearing on WYPR’s Maryland Morning, she gave her full-throated support to Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s plan to transform Port Covington.

Plank wants to put Under Armour’s global headquarters there, as well as 7,500 residences, offices, businesses and a hotel.

But it comes at a price: more than $1 billion in government support. That includes $535 million in tax-increment or TIF bonds. The city would float those bonds. They would be paid back from the property taxes raised by the project in the decades to come.

Some community groups want an independent fiscal study of the project. City Councilman Carl Stokes also wants such a study, because he says without it the city council will not be able to do due diligence on the project.

But the mayor countered this morning that the Board of Finance and the Baltimore Development Corporation have already vetted the project. And she suggested more delay could cause real problems.

"When cities around the country take a look at the push back that some in the community have given to this development, they’re salivating," she said. "They would love to have Under Armour."

Community organizations want iron-clad agreements on hiring city residents and providing affordable housing. But the mayor said she has to negotiate in reality, and that the project will lead to more jobs and affordable homes for the city.