Kevin Plank has built new industry in the shadow of old in Locust Point.
He is called a visionary leader by some but as his Sagamore Development eyes Port Covington for its expansive urban project, some want a clear look at his vision.
"Baltimore could use more corporate leaders like Mr. Plank. Now while we recognize Mr. Plank's investment, we cannot blindly accept a plan that has been offered without appropriate analysis," said Reverend Glenna Huber, a Co-Chair with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development.
Citing previous downtown developments like Camden Yards, hotels and the inner harbor, the group BUILD wants to make sure this one is more inclusive than those.
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Upon each completion BUILD says, there were still two Baltimores. BUILD wants to slow this development down long enough to make sure it can be built by and for all of Baltimore.
"Downtown deals with big developers, even a leader like Kevin Plank should never be taken at their word. They must be analyzed independently so that the rosy picture that is presented in the TV commercials is fact checked," said BUILD’s Reverend Andrew Foster Connors.
So in front of Under Armor's headquarters in Tide Point, BUILD called for the city council to slow down the approval of the deal and perform a true independent study of the numbers and the economic impact.
And in return for the $535 million in public money in tax increment financing, BUILD wants 51 percent of all hiring over the life of the TIF to be local, a dollar for dollar match in rebuilding blighted neighborhoods, affordable housing and guarantee beyond the temporary law signed by Governor Hogan that this TIF won't throw off city school funding.
The demands are not set in stone, BUILD is calling on Kevin Plank to meet and negotiate; come to the table so that Baltimore gets the most out of this historic and transformative deal.
"With the deal we have the opportunity to take giant leaps toward building one Baltimore. So yes Mr. Plank, let’s build together, but let’s do it for the entire city," Rev. Huber said.
Sagamore Development responded to BUILD’s news conference with a statement from Marc Weller:
We appreciate the input of BUILD and the time they have taken on this important project. Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries, changed his schedule to meet with the group.
We strongly share their desire to make sure that Port Covington benefits as many city residents as possible, which is why we have made unprecedented city-wide commitments and will shortly be announcing a partnership with our neighboring communities.
To address their specific concerns:
- Profit-sharing: We intend on entering into a profit-sharing agreement with the City, however the structure and terms cannot be determined until bond issuance.
- Local hiring: We are determined to maximize local hiring, and we are working with partners to build an unprecedented robust workforce-development program that will support not only the redevelopment for Port Covington but other projects in the city and beyond, with the focus on opportunities for City residents. We have also signed the Fair Chance pledge and intend to make every effort to smooth the path to employment for returning citizens. Unfortunately, the formulaic provisions that BUILD seeks are entirely unrealistic and would make financing the redevelopment impossible.
- Dollar-for-dollar investment in other neighborhoods in the City: We think this is a terrific idea, if funds are available. We are unsure what BUILD has in mind as the source of the funds.
- School funding formula: We are absolutely committed to seeing that there is a permanent fix, and we have confidence that our legislators will make sure this happens.
- Meeting with Kevin Plank: Mr. Plank’s job is to run Under Armour, and the leaders of Sagamore Development have conducted dozens of stakeholder meetings at the highest level and continue to do so. These leaders have made themselves available to BUILD on multiple occasions and have now met with them three times.
- Taxpayer risk: The TIF is funded ONLY from within Port Covington and only from new incremental revenues from the project. The developer and owners are on the hook for the TIF, not City residents. Any statement to the contrary is inaccurate and misleading.
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