In 2016, Baltimoreans organized to demand community investment from a developer seeking one of the largest subsidies in city history.
Sagamore Development had planned a brand-new mixed-use waterfront neighborhood that would host a corporate campus for Under Armour, one of Baltimore’s biggest business success stories. In pursuit of a $535 million package to finance roads, rail, parks, and other public improvements at Port Covington, the developers appeared at a Baltimore City Council hearing, displaying projections that Under Armour staff would quadruple over two decades and saying, “It’s grow here or grow somewhere else.”
Community leaders and citizens showed up by the hundreds, buoyed by the civic energy that had followed Freddie Gray’s death a year earlier. Many objected to what they saw as inequitable development: the city’s repeated use of financing packages to spur development of downtown and waterfront neighborhoods rather than the city’s poorer sections.
The city and Sagamore struck a deal in September 2016 after months of acrimony over whether the package was truly beneficial to all city residents or a giveaway to a well-connected developer. Four years later, Baltimore is about to learn whether lofty promises about affordable housing, jobs and minority investment will come true.