Up to 10,000 new jobs are slated to come to Falls Township following the supervisors’ recent approval of a major redevelopment to the U.S. Steel property.
At the Monday, Dec. 14 meeting, Falls leadership voted to approve a developer’s agreement with NorthPoint Development, which would transform the 10 million-square-foot space over the next decade and create between 5,000 and 10,000 new light industrial jobs.
According to NorthPoint chief strategy officer Jed Momot, the company plans to construct 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings, which would bring companies like GM, Amazon, Walmart, UPS, FedEx and Chewy to the township. Momot stressed that hazardous waste tenants would not be permitted, and added that the current heavy industrial site will transition to light industrial warehousing operations.
NorthPoint wishes to rename the “Keystone Industrial Port Complex” the “Keystone Trade Center” as part of the $1.5 billion redevelopment, which is expected to begin by spring 2021.
The 9-year-old, Kansas-based company has made an active footprint in 23 states and 30 industrial markets, creating 60,000 jobs since its inception. But the U.S. Steel project is its 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.”
The special Dec. 14 meeting was a continuation from Dec. 7, when the supervisors first reviewed the sketch plan. Supervisors chairman Jeff Dence said he’s excited about NorthPoint’s strategy. Throughout the duration of his two six-year terms on the board, he “heard every idea” related to the U.S. Steel property, but nothing moved forward.
This time feels different.
“They’re very serious,” Dence said, adding that NorthPoint representatives have been meeting with township professionals weekly since June. “This isn’t just an idea they have.”
Momot said NorthPoint intends to file the first phase of land development plans either by the end of this year or early 2021. Township attorney Mike Clarke said the approval of the developer’s agreement will help to simplify that process.
“They want to cover certain things as it relates to the entire site and not each individual project,” Clarke explained.
All land development reviews by the governing body, planning commission and regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection, would still be applicable throughout each phase.
“Each time they want to develop a particular parcel or a project on a particular parcel, they will be going through the regular land development process,” Clarke said. “If there are zoning issues, they’ll have to go through zoning.”
The agreement sets timelines for plans to be reviewed, and also stipulates that traffic studies are required. NorthPoint will submit an “overall traffic study,” and with each new development, NorthPoint will need to outline how the new project aligns with the traffic study. If the supervisors determine that the traffic study is “outdated or needs to be supplemented,” the governing body can request that another study be undertaken.
Currently, NorthPoint is negotiating a municipal services agreement with the township.
“Our police don’t patrol down there on a regular basis,” said Clarke, who noted that Falls is not responsible for services or road repairs at the U.S. Steel site.
Should Falls take those responsibilities on, it would be at the developer’s expense. A formal municipal services agreement could be ready for consideration at the supervisors’ January or February meeting.
A “very aggressive timeline” is anticipated by Momot in Falls. NorthPoint hopes to begin construction of its first phase by spring 2021 and expects to be “one building ahead so we can meet customer timelines.”
“NorthPoint builds the building without a tenant in mind,” Momot said. “We know the market is there and we know the demand is there.”
When asked why NorthPoint selected Falls Township for its biggest project to date, Momot listed a number of reasons – it’s close to interstates 95 and 295; has easy access to rail, port and heavy built roadways; and a one-day truck drive from the site could reach 40 percent of the U.S. population.
Additionally, NorthPoint plans to spend $25 million in environmental remediation of the brownfield site. U.S. Steel cleaned up nearly 70 percent of the property, and NorthPoint will undertake the remaining efforts.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org