Trade­point At­lantic con­sid­ers seek­ing gov­ern­ment fund­ing

Re­port sug­gests part­ner­ship could boost de­vel­op­ment of old Spar­rows Point steel mill

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Pamela Wood pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

Trade­point At­lantic, the com­pany re­de­vel­op­ing the old Spar­rows Point steel mill in east­ern Baltimore County, is lay­ing the ground­work for seek­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in pub­lic sup­port for needed in­fra­struc­ture on the site.

The de­vel­oper com­mis­sioned an eco­nomic anal­y­sis re­leased Thurs­day even­ing that sug­gests cre­at­ing a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship to spend more than $100 mil­lion on in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments to boost the com­pany’s re­de­vel­op­ment of Spar­rows Point.

A part­ner­ship be­tween the de­vel­oper and state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments could fund some of the more than $200 mil­lion needed in new roads, bridges, util­i­ties, stormwa­ter man­age­ment sys­tems and rail- and portre­lated projects, ac­cord­ing to the re­port pre­sented Thurs­day by Sage Pol­icy Group.

Trade­point At­lantic CEOMichael Moore said he ex­pects to make a de­ci­sion whether to seek such a part­ner­ship within the next three months. He said the com­pany is “at the front end” of its de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

A pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship likely would take the form of a tax-in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing agree­ment in which Baltimore County would is­sue bonds to pay for in­fra­struc­ture projects up front.

Un­der such a sce­nario, the bonds would be re­paid by in­creased prop­erty taxes down the line.

While the deals — re­ferred to as TIFs — are com­mon in Baltimore City to spur de­vel­op­ment, they are rarely used in Baltimore County. The county gov­ern­ment is not “philo­soph­i­cally op­posed” to TIFs, said Don Mohler, a spokesman for County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz, a Demo­crat.

“We are al­ways will­ing to re­view the de­tails of a pro­posal if one comes for­ward,” Mohler said.

County Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell, who rep­re­sents Spar­rows Point, said he’s had “cur­sory con­ver­sa­tions” with Trade­point At­lantic of­fi­cials about in­fra­struc­ture fi­nanc­ing. The Dun­dalk Repub­li­can said it’s too early to say what size or scope of a deal would be ap­pro­pri­ate.

“Gov­ern­ment needs to help cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment for suc­cess,” said Cran­dell, though he cau­tioned that the county needs to make de­ci­sions that are fis­cally pru­dent.

Trade­point At­lantic bought the shut­tered steel mill in east Baltimore County with plans to re­de­velop it into an in­dus­trial cam­pus with port, rail, lo­gis­tics and light man­u­fac­tur­ing uses.

If the gov­ern­ment pitches in on in­fra­struc­ture, Trade­point could re­al­ize its po­ten­tial “more quickly and more broadly,” Sage wrote in its re­port.

“Should the pub­lic sec­tor choose not to en­gage in a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship, de­vel­op­ment at Trade­point At­lantic will be de­layed and pre­dicted eco­nomic and fis­cal im­pacts will be jeop­ar­dized,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Sage chair­man and CEO Anir­ban Basu said pub­lic-pri­vate fi­nanc­ing for in­fra­struc­ture could help lure a man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany to Trade­point. Oth­er­wise, Basu thinks the in­dus­trial ten­ants would be dis­tri­bu­tion and lo­gis­tics ten­ants, which have lower-pay­ing jobs than man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“This could be the build­ing of some­thing very spe­cial,” Basu told more than 200 peo­ple who at­tended an open house at Spar­rows Point on Thurs­day night.

The re­port also found that once fully built out, Trade­point At­lantic will sup­port 17,000 jobs statewide with an over­all eco­nomic im­pact of nearly $3 bil­lion. State and lo­cal gov­ern­ments will take in about $124 mil­lion each year in prop­erty, in­come, cor­po­rate and sales taxes.

Ten­ants at Trade­point At­lantic in­clude Un­der Ar­mour, FedEx, Pasha Au­to­mo­tive, Har­ley-David­son and At­lantic For­est Prod­ucts.

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