For 125 years, Sparrows Point near Baltimore, Maryland, was the home of the world’s largest iron producer and steel making-facility. The steel mill closed in 2012, wiping out jobs for 30,000 employees and darkening the iconic star that had lit up the landscape from atop the steel mill for so many years.
In 2014, the 3,250-acre industrial site came under new ownership with a bold plan for a modern industrial revival. The goal: Transform this 19th-century steel mill into a modern global multimodal logistics port.
Just two and a half years ago, when NAIOP interviewed Eric Gilbert, Chief Development Officer with Tradepoint Atlantic, the project had recently signed FedEx as its first tenant. The project has grown dramatically since then, with the addition of 4.5 million square feet of new facilities and several high-profile tenants including Amazon and Under Armor.
“We’re in a momentum phase, trying to facilitate all of the users no matter what they need,” said JLL Managing Director Ben Meisels, one of the tour guides for the CRE.Converge 2018 Tradepoint Atlantic project tour in Baltimore, Maryland.
Strong progress has been made on cleaning up a century’s worth of steel work, demolishing old buildings and reclaiming materials for new uses. So far, Tradepoint Atlantic’s team has demolished 17 million square feet of the old industrial complex, recycling 95 percent of the steel mill materials in the process. Tradepoint Atlantic has committed $50 million to continued environmental cleanup and earlier this year received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.
And, as the Tradepoint Atlantic team says, there’s much more to come over the next five to seven years. Plans are in the works for 10 million to 12 million square feet of development; the site is expected to provide anywhere between 10,000 to 17,000 jobs. The construction phase by itself has generated over 21,000 jobs statewide.
“The economic impact will be significant, no matter how you look at it,” Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Gill told the project tour participants. He credited a partnership between Tradepoint Atlantic and the state government with helping draw business to Maryland.
Key features of Tradepoint Atlantic:
- Proximity to population locally as well as up and down the East Coast. This was critical when it came to making the Amazon deal because the company wanted to ensure access to a strong pool of labor.
- Easy access to interstate and regional highways.
- Rail system with 100 miles of short rail line connecting to two Class I railroads, with rail car services and storage on-site.
- A heavy-duty multi-berth port.
- The closest deep-water port to the Midwest, providing access to metro Chicago and other regions.
For the next phase of the tour, Jim Lighthizer, principal, managing partner of Chesapeake Real Estate Group, presented a windshield tour showcasing the best of Baltimore area’s industrial, residential, retail, office and hotel developments.
Properties spotlighted on the tour included:
- Duke Realty’s Chesapeake Commerce, seven industrial buildings covering 2.44 million square feet with access to two rail systems.
- Chesapeake Real Estate Group’s Port 95 Industrial Park, a 1 million-square-foot site with two new Class A warehouses and one re-development.
- Sagamore Pendry Hotel in the Fells Point neighborhood, owned by Under Armor founder, CEO and Chairman Kevin Plank. The hotel was recently named top U.S. hotel in Conde Nast Traveler’s reader’s choice awards.
According to the Baltimore Development Corporation, Baltimore is the 26th largest city in the U.S. with a population that is “stable and growing, slowly reversing decades of population loss.” The region’s total population of 2.7 million benefits from the many and varied industries that call Baltimore home, from higher education and medical institutions to advanced manufacturing.
What can we expect for development in Tradepoint Atlantic and the greater Baltimore area in the coming years? Only time will tell, but if the exciting growth and development activity to date is any indication, the future is bright.
Photo courtesy Tradepoint Atlantic