AN INTERVIEW WITH NEW PORT COVINGTON DEVELOPER MARYANNE GILMARTIN OF MAG PARTNERS
Earlier this month, The Port Covington Development Team announced MAG Partners and MacFarlane Partners will take over as the development partners of the Port Covington Development. Weller Development will exit the project at the completion of the 1.1 million sq. ft. Chapter 1B phase in Fall 2023.
The Port Covington Development Team is owned by Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Ventures and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. MAG Partners and MacFarlane Partners will lead the development, as well as invest in the project.
SouthBMore.com spoke with MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, to learn more about what attracted her to the project and her vision for Port Covington.
Gilmartin told SouthBMore.com she met Plank in February 2021 through friend Jody Clark, who is the chief of real estate for Sagamore Ventures, and then started to look at the Port Covington project.
“My team started to look at it, made some recommendations, and somewhere along the way I fell in love with it,” she said. “There is no greater spokesperson for Baltimore I’ve come across than Kevin Plank.”
“I think I can leverage Kevin to be an essential part of the project,” said Gilmartin. “The quid pro quo for me was that Kevin is involved.”
Gilmartin compared Plank’s dedication to Baltimore to the way Dan Gilbert has “lifted up” Detroit. Gilbert is the co-founder of Quicken Loans, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and founder of Rock Ventures, which is co-owner of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.
After her interest grew in the Port Covington Development, Gilmartin called her friend Victor MacFarlane of MacFarlane Partners.
“He only works on things with purpose and only works in cities,” she said, noting how she told MacFarlane, “If I do it, I want to do it with someone like you.”
The two formed a partnership and then not only agreed to join the project, they invested in it as well.
Gilmartin said MacFarlane is “probably one of the largest Black developers in the country.”
Gilmartin started MAG Partners in 2020. She has worked on projects such as The New York Times building in Manhattan, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the 14-building Pacific Park Brooklyn mixed-use project. This is Gilmartin’s first project outside of the New York City metro area.
She said it’s “incredible what Weller Development has put in place.”
“We view Chapter 1B as proof of concept,” said Gilmartin. “Weller will finish up the construction and we will take over from there.”
She said she has been working closely with the leasing team that includes JLL, but noted “we need results.”
Gilmartin said there are “infinite possibilities” for Port Covington. She noted uses such as residential, entertainment, commercial, education, and hospitals, and said she sees a lot of possibilities for life sciences.
“When I think about Johns Hopkins and the unbelievable institutions in Baltimore, the compelling campaign is life sciences. Everyone wants it, there isn’t enough of it, and there is so much money backing it,” she said.
“We shouldn’t be cannibalizing the CBD [Central Business District] and Inner Harbor, this project needs to be bigger than just moving companies around,” she added.
When asked about the idea of a new arena or soccer stadium for Port Covington, Gilmartin said, “I’m absolutely open to the opportunity and know what sports can do for a community.”
Gilmartin worked on the Barclays Center project that brought the Nets to Brooklyn.
She specifically noted that soccer comes up as “high possibility.” She added “very few other places amass the type of land needed for soccer” and that a team would “attract people from all parts of the city.”
When asked about the business climate in Baltimore and Maryland, which never rank high as the best places to do business, she noted her vast experience working in the New York market. “New York is downright hostile, we are challenged every day,” said Gilmartin.
She also said, however, “I have this love affair with New York. People want to be in New York for a reason – for the culture, the food, the people, the opportunity, and the spirit. If a place has a magic fairy dust, it counterbalances what’s not great.”
“I spend a lot of time in Brooklyn. Baltimore has the kind of grit and possibility Brooklyn has. I love the underdog status, ” said Gilmartin.
She said it wasn’t easy to lure companies to Brooklyn but said they were able to create a “sense of place” which led to the momentum Brooklyn is seeing now.
MAG Partners and MacFarlane Partners will take over Weller Development’s office at City Garage in Port Covington which includes a “beautiful” leasing space, according to Weller Development.