When the developers of the Port Covington project announced last week they were changing the name to Baltimore Peninsula, it brought all kinds of questions from curious residents and readers. Some poked fun at the name or said they didn’t get it. Others wondered if they were essentially changing the name of a whole community, and if so, how they were allowed to do it.
The change — an attempt by the development team to turn a page and build excitement around the 235-acre, mixed-use waterfront project — came at the suggestion of consultants hired to help rebrand the development, said MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, the lead developer.
It complements a new vision and branding strategy for Baltimore Peninsula, now being pitched as a mission-driven “live, work and play” area for socially conscious tenants, companies and businesses.
Here are some answers to questions readers had about the name change.
What exactly changes?
The name of the neighborhood, Port Covington, is not changing, according to city officials. But the overall area bought, controlled and managed by the developers is being rebranded, which comprises a sizable portion of the neighborhood.
To formally alter the name of a city neighborhood, developers would have had to go through a more complicated process, said Tamara Woods, a city planner. Port Covington will still be the name used on city maps and for the U.S. Census Bureau data collection process.
“It’s them branding their development, which because of the large scale, is essentially branding a neighborhood,” Woods said. “It’s not really as direct as the parcels they own, but there is overlap.”
How quickly does the change take effect?
Gilmartin said to think of the change like a “light switch” that flipped last Tuesday. That said, she acknowledged the human tendency to adjust to new names, which could take time.
She said the team hopes to collaborate with Google Maps to get the project name recorded there. It was not immediately clear when that would happen.
Why Baltimore Peninsula?
Gilmartin said her team and Under Armour founder and executive chairman Kevin Plank — who is building a new corporate headquarters and stadium in Port Covington — all agreed on Baltimore Peninsula because they said it signals inclusivity, a focus on all of the city and access to the water. They also liked that both words had the same number of letters and could be stacked in a perfect rectangle.
The name was not tested in focus groups or surveys, Gilmartin said, although city officials who were briefed on it before the official announcement responded positively to it.
Why change the name at all?
Gilmartin is tasked not only with leasing and marketing the waterfront development, but also overseeing “placemaking” there. That means shaping a public space with a clear vision and brand identity.
This isn’t Gilmartin’s first time altering a name: In Brooklyn, as part of Forest City Ratner Companies, she and her team changed Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards to Pacific Park as a way of turning more people onto the idea of living and recreating there.
MAG Partners and co-developers, San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners, are hoping to chart a new course for Baltimore Peninsula that distances it from some of the controversies surrounding how it is funded, how few tenants so far have agreed to occupy space there and how Plank’s Under Armour has fared since he began buying up the land.
Gilmartin said they hope to have the first tenants on site by March. Changing the name before the holidays, and before the first residents start living there, was critical, she added.
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