Wednesday the Board of Estimates approved the 22-page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that nearly completes the foundation for Kevin Plank's Port Covington project.
The MOU between Sagamore Development and the city of Baltimore essentially outlines the benefits the Baltimore community will receive in exchange for the $660 million in tax increment financing that will go toward Port Covington. Some community leaders say it's the best deal Baltimore has ever struck with a developer.
"I am very pleased that the MOU was approved today on the Board of Estimates agenda. I think it is an unprecedented agreement that reflects an amazing amount of community dialog and community engagement and community benefit," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
In addition to 20 percent affordable housing and 30 percent local hiring, the MOU grants $135 million in benefits to the city, including:
- $25 million for workforce development to train and hire local residents
- $10 million in loans for minority and women owned businesses
- $1 million for city school student scholarships
- More than $7.5 million for after school and summer programs
- $5 million for the renovation of a recreation center in East Baltimore
- $39 million to impact the challenged neighborhoods south of Port Covington such as Curtis Bay and Cherry Hill
And all of it, the entire memorandum, monitored and enforced by an auditor Sagamore will pay the city to employ. But beyond those checks and balances, Council President Jack Young says he is assured by Kevin Plank's word.
"Before anything was done, he committed to put money out in front so, I mean, the man is putting money where his mouth is. Money is gonna be spent before anything is put in the ground," Young said.
That said, still not everyone is convinced this unprecedented deal or its millions in community benefit is worth a $660 million TIF. The mayor says you can't please everyone and is certain most will be happy.
"I don't want the perfection to be the enemy of the good, certainly the enemy of progress. We worked very hard to make this a deal that works for Baltimore City and I think that the MOU reflects that," Rawlings-Blake said.
Now there is one final step in making Port Covington a reality. The $660 million in tax increment financing faces its third and final vote Monday night in front of the full city council.
If this last vote was any indication, then the biggest TIF in Baltimore history and one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country will be approved.