A number of game-changing projects are breathing new life into acres of prime real estate
One of the largest urban renewal projects in America is underway on Baltimore’s waterfront – Port Covington. Once a railroad terminal, Port Covington is the transformational redevelopment being driven by entrepreneur and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and his Sagamore Development Company. Plans for the site announced earlier this year include developing more than 260 underutilized acres into a mixed-use project that will serve as the home for Under Armour headquarters. Sitting on the eastern rim of the South Baltimore waterfront, the project is slated to include plans for office, retail and makerspace with 125-foot tall buildings and a “Penny Lane” area for small, craft-centered shops. There would also be 40 acres of public space, including a three-acre park, restaurants, entertainment venues and the Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey distillery that is under construction now.
Expected to take two decades to fully develop, the $5.5 billion Port Covington project also means the creation of thousands of jobs for the area and a new commercial and business district for Baltimore City. While the Under Armour headquarters is expected to have roughly 10,000 employees on site, another 15,000 jobs would be created as a result of the project.
Already, parts of Port Covington are taking shape. City Garage, a former one-story garage for city buses, has been transformed into a makerspace and hub of innovation. The space will house Under Armour’s innovation team where prototypes of the company’s future athletic apparel will be made. It also serves as the home for the Foundery, where people interested in building can learn more about various trades, where startups can prototype their products and where small companies can produce goods they otherwise would have had to manufacture elsewhere.
Just a few miles away in eastern Baltimore County is the massive Tradepoint Atlantic project, which is being developed on a 3,100-acre site at Sparrows Point. It is the largest privately-owned industrial site and terminal on the East Coast and sits just off the Chesapeake Bay.
The site, which was the home of the Bethlehem Steel mill since 1889, sat vacant since 2012 when its then-owner, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy. In 2014, Redwood Capital Investments and Hilco Real Estate LLC acquired the site and announced plans to re-develop it into a world-class transportation, manufacturing and logistics hub. Among the features of the site is a deep-water port, including a turning basin and 1,150-foot pier to accommodate heavy commodities; a short-line railroad which serves virtually all of the property on the site and incorporates 100 miles of track connecting two Class I railroads (CSX and Norfolk Southern); immediate access to Interstate 695 (the Baltimore Beltway) providing easy connections to Interstate 95, 70 and all major eastern U.S. population centers; and close to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood International Airport.
Exciting news came in early 2016 when the name Tradepoint Atlantic was unveiled along with a promise by the new owners of the site to retain some of the historic elements of Bethlehem Steel, including the Bethlehem Star which hung so prominently on the mill’s L blast furnace before it was demolished last year.
The site is quickly attracting global attention. In January, Tradepoint Atlantic announced that FedEx Ground will open a 300,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution facility at Tradepoint Atlantic. The facility is scheduled to open in August 2017 and is part of FedEx Ground’s ongoing nationwide network expansion plan that has resulted in the addition of 11 major hubs and the expansion of 500 other facilities since 2005. At opening, the facility is expected to employ about 150 combined full- and part-time employees.
“FedEx is the first of many global companies that will set up operations at the new tri-modal port facility at Tradepoint Atlantic. Having such a prestigious tenant sign a long-term lease at the site demonstrates the economic impact Tradepoint Atlantic will have for the region,” said Michael Moore, CEO of Tradepoint Atlantic. “As we continue to bring jobs and redevelop the site, we will be known as the premier facility on the eastern seaboard and a true world-class center for business and trade.”
In April, Harley Davidson of Baltimore announced plans to relocate its riding academy to Tradepoint Atlantic. The firm signed a long-term lease for several acres for the facility, which was expected to open in May. The riding academy, which opened in 2001, has trained an average of 800 students per year for the last five years.
With the first phase close to completion in East Baltimore is Harbor Point, a 27-acre mixed-use development located on the former Allied Signal site near Baltimore’s growing Inner Harbor East area. The site is the last substantive undeveloped stretch of land on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is slated for three million square feet of mixed-use development over three phases with the project expected to be fully built out by 2022.
The first phase of the project includes the already-constructed Thames Street Wharf office building, which was the first building to open in Harbor Point in 2010. Scheduled to open this year is a 21-story building which will house the headquarters for Exelon’s Constellation business unit plus Exelon’s 24-hour trading floor. The building will also include street-level retail, residential units and a 750-space parking garage.
Slated to open in late 2017 will be Point Street Apartments, a 16-story building which will contain residential units and street-level retail and amenity space, as well as two office buildings. And phase three, opening in 2022, will be Wills Wharf, which includes a 222,000-square-foot hotel, a 438,199-square-foot office tower, and a 346,000-square-foot apartment tower.
State officials have praised Port Covington, Tradepoint Atlantic and Harbor Point as having a transformational impact on the entire Baltimore region.
“These mega projects serve as outstanding examples of the economic development potential for the Baltimore region and highlight the opportunities for creating sustainable jobs for decades,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “The entire focus of our administration is to grow the private sector, put people back to work, and grow Maryland’s economy. Ventures like Tradepoint Atlantic, Harbor Point and Port Covington are helping to make that goal a reality.”
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/maryland_ed for local economic development office directory listings.