Ground On Billion-Dollar Keystone Trade Center Could Be Broken By Spring

If everything goes according to plan, the massive U.S. Steel site in Falls Township could begin to see redevelopment underway by spring.

During a special Falls Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday evening, NorthPoint Development, of Kansas City, laid out an overview of their proposal for the 1,800-acre Keystone Industrial Port Complex site that they are set to buy from U.S. Steel for an undisclosed sum later this month. (See the full slide deck)

NorthPoint Development has told township officials and the public that the project – termed the Keystone Trade Center – has the potential to add 5,000 to 10,000 jobs and 15 million square feet of new warehouse space with a total investment of $1.5 billion over the coming years. The company said they want to develop the “largest e-commerce, logistics, and multi-model industrial project on the East Coast” with room for as many as 20 new buildings.

While Monday’s presentation was just an overview, attorney Michael Meginniss of Begley, Carlin, and Mandio, who is representing NorthPoint Development, stated that developer plans to present formal plans for the first phase of the project to the township within the coming weeks.

Jed Momot, the chief strategy officer for NorthPoint Development, said the market for projects like the one proposed in Falls Township is hot.

“NorthPoint will plan to develop in a speculative fashion, meaning that no tenants have been selected for the buildings. Based on experience, many of these buildings will lease prior to their completion, and many other built to suit opportunities will arise as the development process begins,” the company said in their plans.

The developer has not confirmed any companies coming to the site, but NorthPoint Development has talked with potential tenants. The company has previously worked with Home Depot, Staples, Walmart, Amazon, FedEx, XPO Logistics,, General Motors, and Ulta.

“We know the market is there, and we know the demand is there,” Momot said.

The U.S. Steel site is close to a number of highways, has an international port onsite, and is near a number of airports and ports. All of which are a selling point, Momot said.

About 34 million people live within a three-hour truck drive and 40 percent of the nation’s population lives within a day-long drive of the site, Momot explained.

Previously, the developer has stated they plan to construct new warehouses ranging in size from 200,000 square feet to up to 2 million square feet on open space at the property. Some buildings could be as high as 100 feet if needed. NorthPoint Development also plans to refresh roadways and rail lines.

When asked, Momot said that the idea is to not have heavy manufacturing sites built under their plan.

Momot said NorthPoint Development has pulled off a number of similar projects. The company boasts projects in 23 states.

The U.S. Steel site appears to be NorthPoint Development’s largest project to date.

“It is a big project, even for us,” Momot said. “But we’re ready, willing and able to take it on.”

U.S. Steel and a handful of other companies will continue to own and lease sites within the property and maintain their operations. Many of the leases run for at least the next decade.

Momot explained NorthPoint Development might try to shift some companies leasing land to other locations on the property.

The U.S. Steel site has the third largest property tax assessment in the Pennsbury School District.

The site first opened in 1952 as the U.S. Steel Fairless Works complex. It was the site of a large steel mill, a coke (fuel used in the steel making process) production plant, steel making and forging operations, a powerhouse, and chemical plant. By the 1970s, more than 5,000 people worked at the site. As the years wore on, U.S. Steel slashed thousands of positions and in 2001 closed the majority of the site. The company still finishes cold-rolled steel products made at western Pennsylvania plants for use in the automotive, home construction, appliance, and metal building industries at the facility. By 2009, about 100 U.S. Steel employees worked at the facility as the company continued demolishing buildings that were unused.

The development of the U.S. Steel Fairless Works complex was a massive benefit for the Fairless Hills and Levittown developments.

The U.S. Steel site is home to significant pollution from its previous uses.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act consent order on the site in 1993. U.S. Steel is required to remediate the property under the order. So far, 70 percent of the site has been cleaned up by the steel giant, and NorthPoint Development plans to invest $25 million over the next few years to complete the 30 percent of the site so the consent order can be lifted, Momot said.

Supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence said NorthPoint Development officials have been meeting with the township every week.

NorthPoint Development commended township officials for the ease of working with them.

“They’re very serious,” Dence said. “This isn’t just an idea they have.”

The supervisors chairman said he looked forward to the plan happening.

Supervisor Brian Galloway called the proposal a “remarkable opportunity for our community.”

“The plan looks amazing. Compared to what’s down there now and other projects we’ve heard, this is amazing,” Supervisors Vice Chairman Jeff Boraski said.

At Board of Supervisors meeting next Monday evening, the supervisors will go over a developer agreement and consider a resolution recognizing the Morrisville Municipal Authority as the provider of all water and sanitary sewer related utilities serving the site.

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