Three firms involved in cybersecurity plan to move their headquarters to Port Covington during the first phase of development in the massive South Baltimore project, a move officials hope cements the region as a major East Coast cyber and tech hub.
The firms are moving to the 235-acre waterfront parcel, anchoring buildings that could open by the end of 2020, the project’s developers plan to announce Thursday during an event with Gov. Larry Hogan, Mayor Catherine Pugh and other officials.
“This first wave of companies coming to Port Covington represents an ever-growing sector of the economy that is leading us all into the future,” said Marc Weller of Weller Development, the firm leading the $5.5 billion Port Covington project, in a statement.
Port Covington is a redevelopment project on largely vacant industrial land just south of Interstate 95 that is slated to include the future headquarters campus for Under Armour. The Baltimore-based athletic apparel company has two office buildings there, next to the Sagamore Spirit distillery and Rye Street Tavern that opened last year. The Baltimore Sun leases a large building on the site for its printing plant and business and news operations.
Weller Development was formed last year to spearhead the project for its owners, including Sagamore Development, co-founded by Weller and Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, which joined the development effort in 2017 with an investment pledge of $233 million.
The developers had been disappointed to be passed over in their bid to house Amazon’s second headquarters. They said last month they would soon begin putting in infrastructure for offices, apartments, shops and a market in buildings collectively called Rye Street Market, but announced no tenants until Thursday.
“All aspects of the technology life cycle will plant a flag at Port Covington,” Weller said. “Port Covington will be a magnet for growing, innovative companies — an inclusive community for tech-forward companies to work together to bring ideas to reality, from development to full market maturity. These businesses are leaving Silicon Valley, an area thought to be the nation’s tech capital, in order to become part of something new and exciting here.”
City officials are banking on the site to produce thousands of new jobs and promote economic growth. They agreed to a controversial $660 million tax increment financing deal with the developers in 2016 and will soon begin selling a set of bonds that will be used to pay for infrastructure on the site. The bonds will be repaid from new property taxes generated by the development.
Pugh said in a statement that the site is ideal because of its “abundant space and build-to-suit opportunities — ideal for creating a 21st Century cyber and tech ecosystem.”
Mike Janke, co-founder of DataTribe, said in a statement that the site was ideal because Maryland is already home to a robust cybersecurity industry, U.S. intelligence agencies, R&D labs and other related sectors. The “rich ecosystem” in the state, he noted, already employs 109,000 cyber-related engineering and data science professionals.
“Today, we are announcing the creation of Cyber Town, USA — anchoring the technology ecosystem here at Port Covington,” Janke said. “We are located in the midst of the country’s deepest and largest reservoir of cybersecurity engineering talent, including some of the fastest growing commercial cyber firms in the world.”
Bob Ackerman, founder and managing director of AllegisCyber, added, “Maryland already leads the U.S. in cyber employment for classified Nation State jobs, and the U.S. government is investing billions of dollars annually in the development of groundbreaking technologies to prevent Nation State attacks. There is a groundswell of innovation in certain deep technology disciplines taking place within government labs, producing cutting-edge technology with enormous commercialization potential.”
Developers plan to build a secure, redundant, private fiber optic loop at Port Covington to provide reliable and state-of-the-art gigabit-speed internet connectivity and site-wide Wi-Fi service.
The first phase of the project is expected to include a total of 3 million square feet of space, including 1.26 million square feet of office, 269,000 square feet of retail, 1.33 million square feet of residential and 156,000 square feet of hotel space. Planned features include an open-air market and food hall, street-level shops and a roof-top event space overlooking the Patapsco River. Future phases could include an additional 10 million square feet of space.
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