(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Port Covington is about to get its very own Main Street.
Within a former city bus garage on Dickman Street, a massive indoor corridor is envisioned as one of the prime spaces to get a snapshot of innovation and entrepreneurship in Baltimore city.
Clear glass windows look onto spaces for companies that make stuff. Two tenants have been named in this area so far. One, Tapologie, fuses glass and metal. Another company, Nutreatious, plans to install a commercial test kitchen for its team of chefs.
The space has few dividers, and the companies have shared common space, lending a sense of connectivity. High ceilings provide openness. Vehicles can even drive in and out.
“It will also serve as an amazing space for events,” said Demian Costa.
Costa, the managing partner of Sagamore Ventures, was entrusted to carry out the vision of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, who owns the building and most of the rest of Port Covington.
Under Armour has a big presence at City Garage in the form of a 60,000-square-foot space that will be known as the Lighthouse. Coming online in 2016, that’s where the company is looking to perfect advanced manufacturing processes that will allow products to be produced locally.
Plank’s rye whiskey distillery, Sagamore Spirit, will also have space for bottling operations before its full headquarters is completed at another site in Port Covington next year.
With a giant banner reading “Made in America” and the Star-Spangled Banner written on the walls of the Main Street area, Plank’s goal of producing goods locally is already visible. But Under Armour doesn’t want to be the only company waving the flag for local goods.
“Our goal is absolutely to build a community around innovation and manufacturing,” Costa said. “City Garage is a stepping stone to what we hope will become a thriving community of makers and innovators.”
While Under Armour has been pulling together plans for an expanded campus and flagship store, Costa has been hitting the pavement in Baltimore to talk to entrepreneurs, manufacturers and, yes, even some engineers. In them, he sees a connection to the city’s manufacturing past, and the innovation economy that officials acknowledge is driving a sizable part of the city’s job creation these days.
“We looked at the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region and saw a need to support early-stage companies in this sector,” he said.
The Sagamore team is being selective because they can, but also because of the community they want to build. They want tenants that will help others in the building with what they make, strengthen the community and get attention for Baltimore.
There’s also a requirement that manufacturing and assembly happens onsite.
Then there’s the makerspace.
The Foundery is moving from Pratt and Central to City Garage, where it will have more space and more hours open. The 20,000-square-foot space will have a membership model. The space will have a kiln, as well as tools to melt, forge and cut metal. Fabric and woodworking are also planned.
“Our goal is to allow for a wide variety of uses to accommodate as many different types of makers as possible,” Costa said.
Along with a membership model, the space will also be used for classes, workforce development and may be available to companies who would like to use the tools.
“The bottom line is that we are very selectively building a community which that will help to elevate the brand of City Garage and move forward our existing efforts to grow manufacturing in the region,” Costa said.