FALLS TOWNSHIP >> Within a few years, 10 million square feet of the U.S. Steel property could be redeveloped, and 5,000 to 10,000 new light industrial jobs created under a sketch plan the Falls Supervisors reviewed during a special meeting on Dec. 7.
NorthPoint Development is in the process of purchasing 1,846.4 acres from U.S. Steel. Closing is expected later this month.
The Supervisors recessed Monday’s meeting until Dec. 14 at 5 p.m., at which time the board will consider a developer’s agreement for the project, which is expected to be carried out with multiple phases and the construction of 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings. Each phase would require land development review and approval.
At the Dec. 14 meeting, the Supervisors will also consider a resolution recognizing the Morrisville Municipal Authority as the provider of all water and sanitary sewer related utilities serving the properties.
While enthusiastic about the widescale development – and opportunity to bring companies like GM, Amazon, Chewy, Walmart, UPS, FedEx and more to Falls Township – the Supervisors took no action.
Supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence, who is finishing his second six-year term on the board, said the governing body has “heard every idea” related to the massive U.S. Steel property with nothing moving to fruition. This time is different, Dence pointed out, noting that NorthPoint representatives have been meeting with township professionals weekly since June.
“They’re very serious,” Dence said. “This isn’t just an idea they have.”
During a power point presentation, NorthPoint Chief Strategy Officer Jed Momot told the board that his company intends to rename the Keystone Industrial Port Complex the Keystone Trade Center as part of the $1.5 billion redevelopment.
The 9-year-old company has created 60,000 jobs to date and developed more square feet on an annualized basis than any other company, according to Momot, adding that NorthPoint constructs about 20 million square feet per year.
Momot said he anticipates a “very aggressive timeline” in Falls as well. A land development application could be submitted later this month. NorthPoint is hoping to begin construction of its first phase by spring 2021 and intends to be “one building ahead so we can meet customer timelines,” Momot said.
NorthPoint “builds the building without a tenant in mind,” he said. “We know the market is there and we know the demand is there.”
The Falls Township site is attractive for various reasons, chief among them its proximity to interstates 95 and 295, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well as its easy access to rail, port, and heavy built roadways, Momot said. In addition, a one-day truck drive from the site could reach 40 percent of the U.S. population, he said.
As part of the redevelopment, Momot said NorthPoint will “revitalize and transform what’s there today” with upgraded and updated utilities and freshly paved roads and landscaping throughout.
The company also intends to spend $25 million in environmental remediation of the brownfield site. U.S. Steel cleaned up approximately 70 percent of the property. Momot said NorthPoint will undertake the remaining remediation efforts. Hazardous waste tenants would not be permitted, Momot said, adding that the current heavy industrial site will transition to light industrial warehousing operations.
NorthPoint has spent $2 billion in brownfield redevelopment, including the transformation of a former coal mining site near Wilkes-Barre into warehousing for Chewy, Adidas and Patagonia. In York, the company redeveloped a 750,000-square-foot space previously housed by the Harley-Davidson manufacturing facility to become a home for Post Consumer Brands, maker of Post cereals.
In all, the Kansas City-based company has made an active footprint in 23 states and 30 industrial markets. The U.S. Steel transformation may be the largest redevelopment to date.
“It is a big project, even for us,” Momot said. “But we’re ready, willing and able to take it on.”