Amazon deal for Sparrows Point could be days away, buses and bigger ships coming too | WYPR

Amazon deal for Sparrows Point could be days away, buses and bigger ships coming too

Oct 30, 2017


Sparrows Point
Credit Tradepoint Atlantic

At an open house hosted by Tradepoint Atlantic at its Sparrows Point headquarters, Tom Hewitt, the Director of Service Development for MTA, laid out for Tammy Reeder plans for a new bus service. Currently, the closest bus stop to Sparrows Point is about three miles away. 



Hewitt told Reeder, “Essentially from downtown to Tradepoint will be approximately 60 minutes. Approximately an hour. From Bayview will be about 30 minutes.”


Hewitt said at peak times, the bus running from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center to Sparrows Point will come every ten minutes. The new bus line is expected to be up and running in February. Reeder said this is news she can use.


“I live in the area and I’m a real estate broker so a lot of this will be questions I’ll be getting from everybody else,” Reeder said.


The new bus line will help people get to the jobs that are already at Sparrows Point, as well as the ones that are coming.


Tradepoint Atlantic is developing the old Bethlehem Steel site.


There are currently about 800 jobs at Sparrows Point. Workers are removing the debris left from decades of steel making. New buildings are going up. Several businesses are there, including a FedEx distribution center. Under Armour’s distribution center is expected to open in the spring. And then there’s Amazon.


“We’re literally in the final days of executing a long term deal with a major name there as well,” according to Eric Gilbert, the Chief Development Officer for Tradepoint Atlantic. 


Gilbert’s careful not to use the “A” word, but if the Amazon deal goes through, its distribution center is expected to employ up to 1,500 people.

We should point out, that’s Distribution Center, not HQ2 and its 50,000 jobs. Still, nothing to sneeze at. 


Word of the Amazon deal came out when the Baltimore County Council approved a $2 million state loan as part of the package to lure the distribution center to Sparrows Point.


Tradepoint is already preparing the site where Amazon would go. And Aaron Tomarchio, Tradepoint’s Senior Vice President of Administration and Corporate Affairs, said another building is going up for a tenant to be named later.


Tomarchio said, “What we’re learning from the market is the tenants when they come and look at Tradepoint Atlantic they want to make sure that we can deliver a building really quickly.”


Gilbert said more than 20 percent of the 2,200 acres of usable land Tradepoint has at Sparrows Point has a tenant.


By the end of next year, Tradepoint expects 2,500 people will be working at Sparrows Point. That’s more than were working when the steel mill closed in 2012 after decades of decline.


Next Spring, Tradepoint plans to begin a five year dredging operation of its marine terminal. This is so big ships that carry raw materials like gypsum and coal can be unloaded and the cargo stored at Sparrows Point. Pete Haid, Tradepoint’s environmental director, said they are in the process of getting the permits they need.


Haid said, “We’re not dredging any new channels. We want to clear the existing channels  and get it back to where it was.”


At the open house, Tradepoint teased about a couple of other things cooking. The plan is to have some retail stores along Bethlehem Boulevard. Gilbert said they’ve signed their first retail deal but would only say it’s a well-known convenience store with gas pumps.


And Tomarchio was asked about any deals in the works for light manufacturing.


“Yes,” Tomarchio said. “I can’t tell you yet.” 


Costas Inn in Dundalk was dishing out meatballs and serving sandwiches at the open house. Owner Pete Triantafilos said more people are coming to Costas and he credits the revitalization of Sparrows Point for that.


“Every day we see new faces,” Triantafilos said.


Jeremy Swerling owns property along Jones Creek, close to Tradepoint Atlantic. He said he’s already seeing an uptick in the real estate market.


Swerling said, “Development means employment, employment means people looking for houses, that means more activity in the real estate market, and hopefully a recovery or continued recovery in prices.”