Tradepoint offers Point update at open house
Twenty percent of the usable acreage at the former Sparrows Point steel mill site is back in use, according to officials with current owner Tradepoint Atlantic.
The information was released during a public open house hosted at the 3,100 acre site last Wednesday evening.
It was standing-room only for the event, which drew elected officials, community leaders, former steelworkers and local residents interested in progress at the Point, which has been in redevelopment since steelmaking ceased five years ago.
The closing of RG Steel in 2012 cost 2,500 employees their jobs.
According to Aaron Tomarchio, vice president of corporate affairs for Tradepoint, the company expects to surpass that number of jobs onsite by the end of next year.
Currently, there are 800 employees on the site, including 75 Tradepoint workers, as well as employees of the newly-opened FedEx facility, Access World and other tenants, as well as demolition and construction workers.
Development is slated to continue until at least 2025. When all is said and done, Tomarchio noted, Tradepoint and its investors expect to have invested $2 billion into the site. Development in full swing
Eric Gilbert, Tradepoint’s chief development officer, elaborated on the progress of development at the site.
Construction on the new 1.3 million square-foot Under Armour distribution center is nearing completion. Tradepoint expects to turn the building over to Under Armour in November, with an expected opening date of May 1, 2018. Under Armour expects to employ 1,000 people at the site.
Several more buildings are under construction, Gilbert noted, though tenants have not yet been finalized. This includes a one million square-foot building as well as two “port-centric” buildings designed for the “handling and storage of bulk marine commodities.”
Gilbert did note that Tradepoint is in the “final days of executing a longterm deal” with a “blue-chip name. “He did not reveal the potential tenant, though he did say that the company fits well with the “class A logistics park” being developed at the site.
Retail development is also kicking into gear on-site, with land being cleared for seven free-standing retail pads. One will be designated as a gas station.
“We have signed our first retail deal,” Gilbert revealed, though, again, he did not reveal the name of the gas station/convenience store planned for the site. That deal, he promised, will be revealed soon. Dredging process in works
Pete Haid, Tradepoint’s environmental director, detailed plans for maintenance dredging at the site’s ports.
According to Haid, the site’s previous owner had” neglected” the necessary maintenance, leaving the channels near the peninsula badly in need of dredging.
As Haid noted, sediment tends to settle in areas where the current is low — as it is around the peninsula. The company’s goal is to return the channels to their previous depths — 42 feet at the East/West Berth and 47 feet at the Finger Pier.
Tradepoint has submitted a request to dredge 200,000 cubic yards of material per year over five years. The work is done gradually so as to not overwhelm local dredge containment facilities.
Currently, the Maryland Port Authority limits the dredge they accept to material that is suitable for reuse (as fill, building material, etc.).
The dredge from channels near Sparrows Point, Haid explained, “is a very good candidate for reuse,” though additional sampling is required.
Addressing environmental concerns, Haid acknowledged that the type of sediment present in the waterways would kick up easily during dredging, but would “dissipate quickly,” about 700 feet from the point of dredge, according to modeling done by the company.
Maryland Department of the Environment is currently reviewing Tradepoint’s application for a dredge permit. A public hearing on the matter will be scheduled for early December. Bus line starts service next year
Bus line service to the Sparrows Point site will start in February 2018, according to Tom Hewitt, director of the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) Office of Service Development.
MTA, at the request of Tradepoint, local elected officials and residents, is establishing the line as part of its “commitment to having access to job centers in this region,” Hewitt noted.
There are two proposed alignments to the new LocalLink 63 line — one via Boston Street and one via Eastern Avenue.
Both proposals feature a high-frequency line traveling from Tradepoint, up Peninsula Expressway to Dunmanway and up Dundalk Avenue to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Bayview is where the two plans diverge — one would continue down Eastern Avenue on its way to the Inner Harbor, while the other would take Boston Street, ending in the same location.
The high-frequency leg of the route would run every ten minutes at peak times.
LocalLink 63 will connect to 24 routes in the city bus system, allowing residents from across the city and parts of the county to travel to Tradepoint with just one transfer.
A public meeting on the proposed line will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the North Point Library. A final decision will be made in December, with the line going into service on Feb. 4, 2018. Community concerns addressed
During the open house, community members got the chance to address Tradepoint officials.
Several residents raised concerns over plans to demolish the old main offices at the site.
Joe Lawrence, a veteran ironworker, asked about the possibility of saving the “Bessemer Arch” near the building following demolition.
Tomarchio confirmed that the arch “will be preserved” and will be placed in a location on the site dedicated to displaying historical artifacts.
Tomarchio also committed to saving bricks from the demolished building, which Edgemere resident Keith Taylor hopes to use to build a memorial to the workers at Sparrows Point.
Residents also raised questions regarding truck traffic to and from the site, including concerns over outdated signage directing trucks into the Edgemere community.
Tomarchio noted that sign replacement is underway and will continue.
He also noted that Tradepoint and local legislators are working to encourage truck traffic to use Broening Highway rather than neighborhood roads like Holabird Avenue.
Part of the reason trucks avoid this route now is that trucks on southbound I-695 must pay a toll at the Key Bridge in order to exit at Broening, even though they are exiting before the Key Bridge, not crossing it.
Rather than pay this toll, trucks tend to use neighborhood roadways as a detour.
During the last General Assembly session, Del. Robin Grammer (R-6) was primary sponsor on a bill seeking to create a bypass lane to avoid the toll.
This did not pass, but the state will address the issue during a planned redesign of the Key Bridge toll plaza in 2019.
As the meeting concluded, Tomarchio also addressed concerns regarding the lack of manufacturing at the site so far.
The company is in talks with manufacturers now, Tomarchio noted, though he did not name any potential tenants.
He concluded, “We have a diversified tenant potential here at Tradepoint Atlantic.”
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PHOTO BY NICOLE RODMAN
Eric Gilbert, Tradepoint’s chief development officer, discussed development at the site.
The proposed Eastern Avenue alignment of the LocalLink 63 line to Sparrows Point.
Concept art showcases plans for retail development at Sparrows point.