November 28, 2016
Kevin Plank and the Living Classrooms Foundation on Tuesday showed off the UA House at Fayette, a new community and recreation center in East Baltimore. Next, Plank, the CEO of Under Armour Inc., hopes to replicate the project about 30 times throughout the city.
Flanked by government officials and business leaders, Plank described the 30,000-square-foot UA House as an accelerator for the community and said building it was like starting a fire by, “taking a tiny little match and then pouring about 100 gallons of kerosine directly on top of it.” “That’s what this is meant to be,” Plank said of the center operated by the Living Classrooms Foundation.
The $6.5 million project was funded in large part by Plank’s Cupid Foundation and Under Armour (NYSE: UA), but as Plank reminded the crowd, “Things like this don’t just happen from one person.”
The public-private partnership needed to fund the revitalization of the former Carmelo Anthony Center at 1100 E. Fayette St. in East Baltimore was made up of companies, individuals and government agencies.
The panel of speakers on the field house stage included U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, former Ravens star Ray Lewis, Living Classrooms Foundation CEO James Piper Bond, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.
It took 336 days from the first day of construction to rebuild the center, which now has a recording studio, yoga and dance studio, gymnasium, classrooms, a workforce development and entrepreneurship center and design lab. A covered field house also sits adjacent to the center, funded by a $600,000 donation from the Baltimore Ravens.
The UA House is part of Living Classrooms’ target investment zone, a section of East Baltimore the nonprofit wants to revitalize through educational, recreation and workforce development programs.
Piper Bond considers the UA House to be the “heartbeat” of the Living Classrooms Foundation’s target investment zone.
The 2.5 square miles of Baltimore will become an example of how community centers such as the UA House can be used to create “a pipeline of services from cradle to college and career to disrupt the cycle of poverty,” Piper Bond said.
In time, Piper Bond and Plank plan to scale and replicate the zone to apply it in other parts of Baltimore and the country.
Young applauded Plank for wanting to build more community centers and thanked him for being the “corporate partner that the city of Baltimore needs.”
Article by Carley Milligan, associate editor at the Baltimore Business Journal.