FALLS TOWNSHIP >> NorthPoint Development – the developer working to bring an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs to Falls Township – is eager to start transforming the former U.S. Steel site.
The developer had said this spring that shell construction was expected to be underway by July for the first one million square feet of the large-scale warehouse project consisting of more than 1,800 acres at the former U.S. Steel site, which has since been dubbed Keystone Trade Center. However, NorthPoint is accelerating the redevelopment process by beginning to undertake site preparations for future construction phases.
During the May virtual Falls Supervisors meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve an indemnification and hold harmless agreement which would allow NorthPoint to clear the site and begin pouring footers and foundations while awaiting necessary permits from the Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies. Prior to construction beginning, NorthPoint is required to submit proof of all required permits to Falls Township.
Township attorney Lauren Gallagher said the developer will not receive a use and occupancy permit until necessary authorizations are received from DEP.
The agreement protects Falls Township and ensures that the township is not held responsible for any pre-construction activities, responsibilities, or costs borne by NorthPoint.
The initial phase will be constructed on 100 acres situated on the eastern side of River Road, south of Biles Creek on the eastern portion of the development.
Plans call for a 49-foot-high warehouse with 196 doors, 475 parking stalls, including 18 handicapped parking spaces. Trucks would enter the site primarily via Tyburn Road and Route 13.
Sketch plans reviewed last year outline a buildout of up to 15 million square feet of warehousing, which is expected to create between 5,000 and 10,000 new light industry jobs.
The site clearing authorized in the agreement would expand NorthPoint’s footprint to 155 acres and would involve preparing phase 1A for construction. Preliminary site work is expected to take three to four months. In all, the developer plans to construct three buildings total in phases 1 and 1A.
NorthPoint plans to carry out the multiple phase warehouse project with 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings for various Fortune 500 companies.
NorthPoint will invest $1.5 billion into the transformation of the site. In all, the developer will spend an estimated $40 million to $45 million to remediate the site.
Falls officials are working to ensure that NorthPoint contributes its fair share to police and fire service, as well as road maintenance too. Falls officials, along with Pennsbury School Board and the Bucks County Commissioners last year approved designating the site a Keystone Opportunity Investment Zone, which exempts NorthPoint Development from taxes for a 15-year period through Dec. 31, 2035.
While NorthPoint would not be required to pay real estate taxes as part of the KOIZ designation, the Falls Supervisors approved a payment in lieu of tax agreement requiring the developer to pay 110 percent of taxes owed.
In other business, Falls is moving forward on its 2021 road program.
Eight township roads are set for milling and overlay improvements beginning this summer at more than $1 million under the amount budgeted.
The annual road project will focus on Elderberry Drive. The eight roads scheduled for upgrades are: Nottingham Drive, Jensen Drive, Nottingham Court, Nancia Court, Steel Road West, Steel Road East, Steel Road North and Steel Road South.
During May's virtual Falls Supervisors meeting, the board voted unanimously to award this year’s road program to General Asphalt Paving Co., Inc. The company bid $3,197,176.26, which township engineer Joseph Jones said was more than $1 million under the amount earmarked for the project. The other bidder, James D. Morrissey Inc., submitted a bid for more than $4 million.
The company will be greenlighted to undertake the project once the 30-day responsible contractor review is completed. A determination would then be issued on or about June 15 and work could begin after that, he said.
General Asphalt is a regular bidder for Falls Township road projects and has been involved in recent township road improvements. Still, given the amount spent on road upgrades, the township is required to solicit bids from any company wishing to potentially carry out the work. The Supervisors are then tasked with awarding the bid to the lowest responsible contractor.
“They do a good job for us,” Supervisors Jeff Dence said, noting that the township can not “pick and choose” which contractor is ultimately hired to perform the work each year.
The Supervisors also voted unanimously to accept a proposal from Jones Engineering Associates to oversee the project. The township’s engineering firm would provide oversight for all work within the project scope, including inspection, construction administration, and field engineering. Total engineering cost is not to exceed $199,400.