Mar 14, 2016
Under Armour, the second largest sports apparel company in the U.S., asked the city of Baltimore to give its huge new development plan a 535-million-dollar TIF. A TIF, which stands for “tax increment financing,” is a special tax break that allows a company to pay NO property taxes while it pays off bonds the city buys for it – a sort of free loan.
Under Armour, originally located in Baltimore, has been expanding, with sales of four billion dollars a year. The company began buying up hundreds of acres of land in an area that was once industrial waste in south Baltimore. The plan calls for a larger plant for Under Armour and other manufacturers, and proposes to build 7,500 residential units and a million square feet of stores and offices, and put in parks as well.
Does Baltimore have 535 million it can afford to give away? Of course not. It’s a city with a 25% poverty rate, with 86% of children in the public schools qualifying for school lunches, with falling down public housing and 16,000 vacant properties.
Yet city officials have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to developers in the last 15 years. In fact, Under Armour itself got a 35-million-dollar TIF for its older manufacturing site.
Whether Under Armour really wants 535 million dollars or even 53 million – Baltimore City residents have other needs.
Some Baltimore residents in public housing recently protested the 17-million-dollar TIF that went to expand a biopark for a large hospital system. Time for much more of that!