Sagamore Spirit Distillery Unveils First Plans for Port Covington Redevelopment

| March 12, 2015 | 6 Comments

Sagamore Development is hoping to combine the feel of its Sagamore Farm thoroughbred horse farm in Baltimore County, the industrial history of Port Covington, and the Chesapeake Bay in its plans for the five-acre Sagamore Spirit distillery at 301 E. Cromwell St. in Port Covington. The plans for the distillery were first revealed yesterday at Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel (UDARP). Sagamore Spirit and Sagamore Development are owned by Under Amour CEO Kevin Plank, who recently announced an ambitious mixed-use redevelopment plan for the more than 90 acres of Port Covington real estate Sagamore Development has acquired, which will include up to three million sq. ft. of office space for Under Armour.

Plank is also the owner of Sagamore Farm, which first opened in Glyndon in 1925 and features a natural spring that is filtered by limestone and used by the farm’s horses for water. Plank discovered this water would also be perfect for distilling rye whiskey. Shawn Batterton of Sagamore Development told SouthBMore.com that Maryland was formerly known for rye whiskey and Baltimore was previously the home to more than 20 distilleries.

When researching the history of 301 E. Cromwell St., Sagamore and the design team from Ayers Saint Gross ironically discovered that the site was once the home to a distillery before becoming the home to a depot for the Western Maryland railroad. The site was originally home to Fort Covington, which was used to defend Baltimore during the War of 1812.

The plan for Sagamore Spirit distillery includes four buildings that are designed to feel like a part of a waterfront park. This includes a 27,000 sq. ft. distillery building, a 22,000 sq. ft. processing building, a 10,000 sq. ft. restaurant, and a 2,000 sq. ft. support building, all of which will surround a green courtyard space. There will also be a 120-foot water tower which will hold water from the Sagamore Farm spring.

The plan also includes a waterfront promenade that could potentially be part of a much larger promenade, additional green landscaping, storm water collection areas, and two additional piers, which Sagamore is hoping to build five acres of additional park space on top of in the future.

Architect Scott Vieth of Ayers Saint Gross said they were looking for simple geometry in the design which brings many elements from Sagamore Farm. Three of the buildings will have red roofs and grey brick, modeled after the stables at Sagamore Farm, and the restaurant will have a grey roof and a stone facade, modeled after the spring building at Sagamore. The buildings will also have facades comprised of windows that will glow at night, showing off features such as the whiskey stills and wood whiskey barrels toward the existing road and waterfront. The windows will also provide waterfront views for the restaurant.

Sagamore Spirit will offer daily tours and a tasting. They are currently speaking with operators about the restaurant space, which will feature a 6,000 sq. ft. first floor with a dining area, kitchen, bar and gallery and a 4,000 sq. ft. second floor event space.

Sagamore is hoping to attract visitors by both water and land. They are hoping to lure the water taxi to the development and will eventually have spaces for boats to dock. The property will also have a parking lot for cars and they are hoping to eventually attract a bus stop to the site.

Panelists at UDARP were critical of some design elements of the plan, saying that the water tower could be constructed with more industrial character or replaced by something that further symbolizes the area’s industrial past. They were also critical of the landscaping architecture in the plan, saying it may need to be simplified.

Sagamore is hoping to begin construction on the distillery later this year and anticipates an approximately 14-month timeline. Batterton told SouthBMore.com that the distillery will give Sagamore Spirit space for future growth and that they anticipate future employment opportunities coming to the site. He also stated that barrels of whiskey are already in production and that they hope to launch the rye whiskey at next year’s Preakness.

Batterton said they are also committed to doing their part to keep the shoreline clean of trash and debris.

The team was mum on Sagamore’s other future plans for Port Covington as an area master plan still needs to be created.

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About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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  • James Hunt

    I’ve read the reporting on this project in The Sun and the BBJ and this article tops both in detail and in interpretation of UDARP’s remarks. Well done!

  • dhartm2

    “features a natural spring that is filtered by limestone and used by the
    farm’s horses for water. Plank discovered this water would also be
    perfect for distilling rye whiskey.”

    The eye roll is strong with this statement.

    • James Hunt

      Apparently there’s some science involved … 😉

      http://lautertu.ehost.com/spiritednewsfromthehearthland/id15.html

      “Water also contributes calcium to help control pH and improve yeast growth during fermentation. Therefore, starting with iron-free, limestone water that is rich in calcium produces the highest quality whiskey. The water must be completely free of iron. The presence of iron would turn the whiskey to a black color instead of the pleasing gold hue that develops during maturation.”

  • Earlypioneer

    Wondering why the planning types for the city would even be critical. Since UA took over they have mover the homeless camp, picked up the trash (as they do for the city in LP), and want to turn a sow’s ear into a purse. What a city??