What happens when the founder of a world-renowned sportswear maker teams up with a successful real estate developer? In the case of Kevin Plank and Marc Weller, the result is an astounding 235-acre project that carries a $5.5 billion dollar price tag — the Port Covington project.
So, how did these two business powerhouses get here? Well, that’s quite a story.
Where it all started
Weller’s and Plank’s paths first crossed in Maryland when Weller was in high school. They met through a mutual friend and discovered that they shared a passion for taking things and making them better than how they found them.
Over the years, that passion took them down very different roads. While they kept in touch, Kevin Plank founded Under Armour, a Baltimore-based athletic apparel manufacturer. Marc Weller went on to start his own company, Weller Development Company, also in Baltimore.
Their professional paths eventually converged, and they formed a business partnership. This led to a massive joint effort to bring the Port Covington project to the hometown they both loved. Weller used his expertise and knowledge in real estate development while billionaire Weller brought $5.5 billion to the table. Together they put their plan into action to transform Baltimore.
Maryland’s most populous city, Baltimore, is known as a “city of neighborhoods.” As home to the prestigious Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital as well as a rich history with national importance, it already has a lot to offer. Yet, Plank and Weller saw so much more potential in the noble city.
In September 2016, the transformation of Baltimore was set in motion when the City Council approved the redevelopment project for Port Covington. Over the course of the project’s development and growth, it surpassed the Harbor Point development and became the largest tax increment financing deal ($660 million) in the history of Baltimore. It is also one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the United States.
The aim is to bring jobs and revenue to the Baltimore area to boost the economy and provide the city’s residents with more options. The goal is to create a better, improved Baltimore. And that is exactly what they are doing.
The first chapter of the project officially launched in late 2018.
Taking on Port Covington
Formerly a largely industrial waterfront complex, Port Covington is undergoing a complete makeover to become an exciting hub of activity. The project plans to add homes, restaurants, waterfront parks, offices, restaurants, and a new, state-of-the-art complex for Under Armour.
So, what does this mean for Baltimore? How does it benefit the city’s residents and economy?
Ultimately, it will bring more than 26,500 new, permanent jobs to the city, although some experts estimate as many as 35,000 new jobs. What’s more, the annual economic impact of the project is expected to top $4.3 billion. This is good news for the residents of Baltimore as they watch their city transform into something that serves them even better than before.
The sheer size of the Port Covington project is awe-inspiring as it spreads out over 177 acres, or 45 city blocks, with 40 acres of green space and parks. It is located next to I-95, which will increase its visibility as an estimated 42 million cars pass by the complex each year. The three access points to and from I-95 will make it easy for visitors and residents alike to come take in this new, exciting space.
Chapter 1 of the project launched in late 2018. Already several restaurants, pubs, and other establishments are open and enjoying lively business. Residential units are going up, as are 180,000 square feet of office space, Rye Street Market (a food hall), and an open-air market. The project also has 50,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
One of the big draws that has been garnering a lot of attention is Cyber Town, USA, which aims to place many South Baltimore cybersecurity firms and other related businesses under one roof, so to speak. The goal is to establish Baltimore, or more specifically, Port Covington, as a global hub for cyber businesses.
As with any large-scale project that makes dramatic changes to an area, Port Covington is not without controversy. However, Plank and Weller are confident that once the project is completed, the naysayers will come around. There is just too much promise in the project as the great city of Baltimore is transformed with a boost to the economy and thousands of new, permanent jobs. Who can argue with that?