Major blow for Port Covington as feds reject grant application
Above: Some of the promotional material used on social media to sell Kevin Plank’s Port Covington project. (Sagamore Development Co.)
The U.S. Department of Transportation today turned down a $76 million request for new highway ramps off of Interstate 95 to benefit the sprawling Port Covington redevelopment proposed by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank.
Matthew Clark, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, confirmed the rejection, blaming the Democratic Obama administration for “overlooking Baltimore by withholding federal assistance” for the FASTLANE application sought by Sagamore Development, Plank’s real estate arm.
Exactly where the rejection leaves Under Armour, Sagamore, Plank and Baltimore City Hall, which has vigorously supported the developer’s plans, is too early to say.
Sagamore has sought an expedited schedule for City Council approval of $660 million worth of tax increment (TIF) bonds in order to win federal and state funding, while Baltimore’s chief development officer, William F. Cole, has stated that securing TIF funds is dependent on Sagamore receiving federal and state aid.
Application in April
The Maryland Transportation Authority applied for the FASTLANE grant on behalf of Sagamore last April, pledging $33 million in state funds to match federal aid for Phase 1 of the improvements.
At the same time, the Baltimore Development Corporation, headed by Cole, allocated $43 million in proposed TIF funding for Phase 1 improvements. Sagamore itself would supply only $5 million, or 3%, of the total $157 million sought.
Even though the city and state, along with the Maryland Congressional delegation, supported of the application, it was considered a long shot both because of the number of competing projects nationwide and its peripheral role in achieving the federal goal of promoting “national shipping, transportation and port efficiencies.”
The ramp improvements would mostly expedite auto traffic to and from the proposed residential and office complex at Port Covington – as well as the new headquarters of Under Armour – rather than serve port industries directly.
Competing with this application was a second Maryland proposal for $155 million in FASTLANE aid to help fund the enlargement of the Howard Street railroad tunnel to allow double-stack container trains to move through Baltimore to port terminals.
This application was also rejected today by the U.S. Transportation Department.