Friday, September 15, 2017

Giant Under Armour Complex Planned for South Baltimore

A 50-acre campus with 3.9 million square feet of office, manufacturing and athletic space, and a manmade urban lake and are the signature features of planned new global headquarters for Under Armour along the Port Covington waterfront. A total of 10,000 employees are expected to work at the South Baltimore campus once it is built out.   

The new corporate campus is being designed by the Pittsburgh office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

The firm has designed studio space at Pixar and Disney Studios as well as the iconic Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Frank Grauman, a principal with the design firm, said the Under Armour project will include environmental, spacial and urban characteristics that detail “Baltimore’s sense of itself” — both past and present.

The plans call for public access to the waterfront in certain areas of the secure corporate campus, a field house with indoor practice fields and a basketball court, a 100,000-square foot manufacturing hub and 2.9 million square feet of office space, some of it in a landmark tower to be built in the first phase by 2018.

The tower will showcase Under Armour’s interlocking UA logo to travelers on Interstate 95 located on the northern rim of the Port Covington site. Three towers as tall as 460 feet could be built, depending on the company's growth, architects told the design panel.

The campus will also include a 7,000-seat stadium on the waterfront where executives from Under Armour say possible local rivalries like the Loyola vs. Calvert Hall Turkey Bowl game and the City College-Baltimore Polytechnic football game could be played each year.

“We see this as transformative for the city and transformative for Under Armour,” said Neil Jurgens, vice president for corporate real estate at Under Armour.

The 170,000-square-foot project sits in a completely overhauled former Sam’s Club. The space is now being called Building 37, named after company founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s jersey number on the University of Maryland football team.

The site of a recently shuttered Wal-Mart store at Port Covington will also be used for the future campus.

Earlier this month, executives from Sagamore Development Co. unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment of 266 acres of Port Covington into a mixed-use project over the next decade. The Under Armour campus is part of that development.

Under Armour currently hoists its corporate flag in a former Procter & Gamble soap factory in Locust Point. There, 1,800 employees work in offices that are landlocked and cannot expand because of existing residential and industrial developments and the nearby national park, Fort McHenry, where the Battle of Baltimore took place in 1814.

The cost of the entire project is expected to be in the billions, Under Armour and Sagamore Development officials have said.

Sagamore Development officials are seeking tax breaks from the city of Baltimore for the entire development and have opened discussions with the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s quasi-public development arm, over establishing a tax increment financing district at Port Covington.

A TIF designation from the city that will allow Sagamore Development and Under Armour to build infrastructure at the site with proceeds from a private bond sale that is repaid with diverted property tax revenues for decades.

The new corporate headquarters will be “an iconic high-performance global headquarters” that will have sustainable features that include a man-made lake to help cool the buildings that will use less electricity and water than a campus of its size in the past.

Port Covington has for decades been an industrial site, and it still has existing industrial companies open for business there.

Environmental remediation will commence immediately on certain parts of the waterfront and the property.

Overall, Sagamore’s plans for Port Covington include 13 million square feet of office, retail and residential space and 40 acres of public park land.

Plank's Sagamore Spirit whiskey distillery is currently under construction at the site.

Jurgens said the corporate executives and representatives of Sagamore Development plan to aggressively pursue public transportation options with the city to help employees and visitors gain access to the site.

They include an extension of the light rail line in nearby Westport, a circulator bus and water taxi service.

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