Port Covington pledges millions to south Baltimore

Includes $40 million over 30 years
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 08:41:48-04

With a stroke of the pen, six south Baltimore neighborhoods signed on to the power and scope promised by the redevelopment of Port Covington.

Community leader Ann Robinson said she feels like she struck a good deal. Robinson signed the pact on behalf of the Mount Winans community.

Together with Cherry Hill, Westport, Brooklyn, Curtis Bay and Lakeland they are known as the SB 6 coalition.

SB 6 negotiated with Sagamore Development since April to make sure the neighborhoods benefit from the proposed massive urban redevelopment just across the Middle Branch, an economic justice neighborhood leaders feel they successfully obtained.

"There's been a lot that's been done for us, or to us... but not with us. Now this is an opportunity for us to work with Sagamore and improving the nature and condition of these communities," said Chairman of the Cherry Hill Community Coalition Michel Middleton.

It will be an improvement to the tune of $40 million over 30 years.

Sagamore Development is committing $10 million up front, another $10 million after five years and then $19 million over the life of the deal from a fee charged for every square foot built upon Port Covington.

The money will be spent as SB 6 sees fit.

The group is already eyeing a new recreation center, parks, funding for safe streets and employment training to name a few.

Sagamore Development says a deal like this between a developer and a community is historic.

"We're proud of what we brought to the table,” said CEO of Plank Industries Tom Geddes, “I think we feel like we're really stepped up so today is really about a community speaking for itself, a community that knows what it needs and we feel like we've done our part to come together to the table and bring excitement and enthusiasm and bring real dollars."

But none of it happens without the $535 million Sagamore is asking the city for in tax increment financing to build infrastructure and utilities in Port Covington.

The TIF, a historic amount of money in its own right, is getting closer to a vote in the city council and despite some critics, the mayor feels it will be a vote for Baltimore.

"The city council president in his leadership I am sure will shepherd it through the process and I am sure people won't be distracted by those who want to be naysayers and don't want to support these communities,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “These communities are very clear about what they want. I support them."

And now that TIF, this project is contractually linked to some city-wide initiatives and now the betterment of six surrounding communities.

It is a deal Robinson says could literally fund a new era in South Baltimore.

"I think it's a deal that is going to impact our communities for years to come. Long past my years."

Follow Brian Kuebler on Twitter @BrianfromABC2.