Consultant hired by city to assist in Port Covington planning
Parsons Brinckerhoff to coordinate sweeping transportation improvements
Above: The Walmart store at Port Covington was closed by Plank’s development group to make way for Under Armour’s headquarters complex. (Mark Reutter)
The Baltimore Department of Transportation has won approval to hire Parsons Brinckerhoff as a chief coordinator of the city’s efforts to implement Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s proposed Port Covington project.
Under a contract approved today by the Board of Estimates, the consultant will be paid $18,000 a month for nine months – for a total of $164,983 – to “lead and assist” DOT in its Port Covington Transportation Program, according to the board’s agenda.
Sagamore Development, Plank’s real estate arm, has asked for $660 million in tax increment (TIF) bond money to build the infrastructure for a sprawling high-rise community next to Under Armour’s new headquarters.
The property, purchased by the sports apparel tycoon over the last 2½ years, is bordered by the Middle Branch of the harbor and mostly isolated from the rest of the city.
To gain better access to the site, Plank is asking the State of Maryland to build a branch of Baltimore’s Light Rail to Port Covington and is applying for a federal FASTLANE grant to reconfigure and rebuild ramps from I-95 to the site.
Sagamore wants to use the city-sponosred TIF bonds to finance the demolition of the present road system at Port Covington and to construct 52 new blocks for residential and office development.
Parsons Brinckerhoff was granted authority to represent DOT “in communication[s] with Sagamore Development” over the property’s transportation portfolio. DOT spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said today that “multiple agencies” will be involved in the process.
Public Hearing on July 27
Today’s consultant contract comes six weeks before the City Council is scheduled to take up legislation designating Port Covington a TIF district eligible for $660 million in TIF bonds.
A July 27 public hearing has been scheduled by the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, which is required to vote on the legislation before it goes back to the Council for final action.
The Rawlings-Blake administration is pushing for Council approval before the end of the third quarter of 2016. The mayor will be leaving office on December 5.
Chairman Carl Stokes and two other committee members (Warren Branch and Helen Holton) are lame ducks who will leave office in December. The two other members (Bill Henry and Edward Reisinger) are heavily favored to win the November general election and return to the body.
Although a strong proponent of the Port Covington project, Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young voted against the Parsons Brinckerhoff contract today.
His vote was in keeping with his opposition to hiring consultants for tasks that he says could be handled at less cost by city agencies.
$2 Million for Consultants, $10 Million for Sitework
The spending board today approved $2 million in consulting contracts and $10 million for advanced work on a major sewer project in addition to the Brinckerhoff award.
• Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson was given a $799,815 extension of an existing contract to inspect improvements at the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant’s nitrification facilities.
• Gaudreau Inc. was handed $573,390 for “on-call” architectural design services for the Department of General Services through mid-2018. And Alpha Corp. was awarded $454,855 to inspect Phase A improvements at the Montebello Filtration Plant over the next 16 months.
• A. Morton Thomas & Associates was awarded $175,240 to continue inspections of the Central Avenue Phase 2 “design-build” contract at Harbor East and pending construction of the Central Avenue Bridge from Harbor East to Harbor Point.
• Allan Meyers MD, Inc., received a $9,999,000 contract for advanced site preparation for improvements to the headworks of the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The contract will be the start a five-year project to remove the misalignment of the city’s main sewer pipeline that results in 10-mile-long sewage backups following heavy rainstorms and leads to sewage releases both into the Jones Falls and into private properties, especially in parts of Northwest Baltimore.