Sagamore, city launching charm offensive for Amazon

Posted at 10:54 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-28 18:22:55-04


When Sagamore Development wanted to know what Port Covington would look like in about 5 years, they hired Terry Kilby and company at Elevated Element.

"We've used drones to go in and capture aerial imagery of the site. Once we have that imagery captured we can then overlay 3D architectural plans onto our images and show what the site might look like at any given time during the development of the site," Kilby said.

It's a virtual look at the eventual reality of Port Covington after the first completed phase of construction in 2022.

But the company has also put its drones to use for other Baltimore developments including the city’s newest sky scraper at 414 Light Street.

Or at the old Crown Cork and Seal plant near Canton where they’ve illustrated the redevelopment of how a warehouse built by the man who invented the bottle cap gives way to a more modern residential complex.

So earlier this month when Amazon announced it was looking for a new home, the designers let their imagination take over and together with Elevated Element Art Director Adam Palmer, Terry helped create an image of just what Amazon at Port Covington might look like, at least at first.

"It might sound a little selfish to say but I personally was just very curious about it. I love the idea of bringing Amazon to Baltimore and I personally wanted to see what it was like," Kilby said.

The rendering of Amazon's headquarters would be located to the west of the existing Baltimore Sun building closer to Hanover Street but to be clear, Sagamore Development hasn’t contracted with Elevated Element to create the image, they were simply satisfying their curiosity...and there has been a lot of that going around at the city level, the state level and especially at Port Covington.

"No doubt,” said Sagamore Development President and CEO Marc Weller, “I think when we read the request for proposal we felt as if it was just written for Baltimore and written in particularly for Port Covington."

In the company’s unassuming office on Key Highway, Weller says his team of more than 25 people have been crowded around a table for 18-20 hours a day.

It is a packed room as we were invited in, but not allowed to film.

The details of this charm offensive we were told, are for Amazon's eyes only.

"We are taking the lead on it but we also have a lot of help from our friends in city and state government, the business community, the educational community which includes Johns Hopkins, the entire University of Maryland system including the University of Maryland in a very big way. So we are very comfortable helping direct traffic, but there is a lot of people at the table helping out," Weller said.

It is a massive effort as more and more power brokers in the state begin to fall in line behind the Port Covington pitch.

From the governor to those running for governor, universities, business leaders and politicians, Amazon is becoming a regional bet.

“I happen to believe that the city of Baltimore and the Port Covington project is the one that gives us the best chance to bring those 50 thousand jobs to Maryland,” Governor Larry Hogan said.

More and more state leaders cite Port Covington’s location, space and eventually the infrastructure thanks to a near 700 million dollar tax increment financing package approved by Baltimore City last year.

"I think we have more than a real shot,” Weller said, “I think that we're probably one of the leading contenders."

Hoping to leave nothing to chance to add a prime name to the Baltimore city skyline.

Sagamore has until October 19th to complete its proposal.

Amazon has indicated it wanted to start breaking ground on its new home in 2019 so a decision is expected in short order.