(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Kevin Plank plans to turn a former garage for city buses into a home for makers and innovation, the managing partner of Plank’s Sagamore Ventures told a crowd of Baltimore entrepreneurs at Startup Soiree Tuesday.
Demian Costa said the Under Armour CEO plans to turn the one-story, 140,000-square-foot building at 101 Dickman St. in Port Covington into the home of the apparel company’s innovation division, as well as a focal point for Plank’s desire to bring more light manufacturing to the U.S. The building will continue to be called City Garage, and will be the first part of Plank’s massive plans to transform Port Covington into a sprawling home for Under Armour and his various other ventures.
Costa said Plank and Sagamore made the decision to “go out and find cool companies that are making stuff, the light assembly, manufacturing type folks,” he said. “Let’s get that grittiness back here in the city, and let’s make that the first thing that we do in Port Covington.”
About one-third of the building is slated to house Under Armour’s innovation team, including employees making prototypes of the company’s future athletic apparel.
"This is about bringing manufacturing back. There's a creative class that we want to get behind and celebrate."
The rest of the building will house a makerspace, flag-sewing operation and a blacksmith and metal shop. The building will also house initial bottling operations for Plank’s whiskey distillery, Sagamore Spirit.
With 35-foot ceilings and few columns, the building is uniquely suited for such enterprises, Costa said.
“This is about bringing manufacturing back,” Costa told the crowd. “We think there’s a creative class that we want to get behind and celebrate.”
The City Garage plans were among a host of plans presented by Costa, who runs the division of Plank’s personal operation that has invested in various startups over the last year.
Other development plans include a new 3-million-square-foot campus for Under Armour and a flagship store, the transformation of the Recreation Pier in Fell’s Point into a luxury hotel and space for retail and housing. Between employees and residents, the development is projected to add 65,000 people to South Baltimore, Costa said.
Plank amassed property on the South Baltimore peninsula through a series of real estate transactions that over the last few years that were largely kept under wraps. Along with providing more space for Under Armour and a home for Plank’s business ventures, Costa said Plank is undertaking the massive project to help the company’s efforts to retain and attract talent to the area. And he told the crowd of founders to use it as an example of Baltimore’s growth in talking to their own future employees.
“It’s gonna happen,” Costa said. “This is a company that’s never leaving.”