Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has a vision for Sparrows Point.
Friday the county executive unveiled a plan to redevelop the 3,300 acre peninsula in Dundalk into a place for new residential, commercial and industrial growth. The goal -- at least 10,000 jobs.
The plan, Kamenetz says, is based on findings of the Sparrows Point Partnership, a business advisory group of port officials, commercial, real estate, manufacturing, logistics and distribution executives established by the county to recommend a framework for bringing new jobs to Sparrows Point after the closing of the RG Steel mill in May, 2012.
"We view the Sparrows Point peninsula not as the resting place of a declining smokestack industry, but as 3,300 acres with a combination of assets rarely found in one place in the Northeast United States," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. "We have every reason to believe that these assets, led by expanded growth at the Port of Baltimore, will bring more than 10,000 new jobs to Eastern Baltimore County."
The partnership, chaired by Dan Gundersen, Executive Director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, analyzed the major business assets of the peninsula and suggested market-driven opportunities that could bring jobs back to Sparrows Point.
A site analysis identified the peninsula's unique strengths as a location for industrial and maritime uses.
· Massive land product, with over 3,300 acres (5.3 square miles) zoned for industrial use.
· Deepwater access near the growing Port of Baltimore.
· Inter-connected transportation, including direct connection to two Class One railroads and Interstates 695/95.
· Exceptional natural gas and electricity and a large supply of treated water flowing directly to the site.
· A highly capable, motivated workforce.
The partnership identified four major opportunity areas for business attraction and job growth: port and maritime uses, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and assembly, and distribution, logistics and freight.
Port and Maritime
"With the Port of Baltimore's impressive growth and forward thinking, a new shipping terminal at Sparrows Point is a very real and very exciting possibility. Expansion of the Port alone could mean 10,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment in Baltimore County," said County Executive Kamenetz.
The Coke Point area can accommodate a dredge containment site that will allow maintenance, and therefore extended vitality, of existing port operations. Once the dredge containment site is filled out after 10 years, a new marine terminal can be built on the site, creating an estimated 9,000 new family supporting jobs.
Another 1,000 jobs could quickly be created in the next three years on the east side of Coke Point near the turn-around basin, with a former iron ore pier immediately available for bulk commodities, including loading and unloading of automobiles.
Additional Job Opportunities
The remaining acreage of the peninsula provides a myriad choice of job creating opportunities in the clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and logistics industry.
Sparrows Point's central location and available industrial land could accommodate clean, renewable energy facilities for biomass, natural gas and hydroelectric power generation. Maryland's newly authorized offshore wind operations will require vast assembly and equipment staging areas compatible with the peninsula.
Sparrows Point holds market opportunities in advanced manufacturing and value added assembly for a range of products including high speed, heavy and light rail transportation, rail cars and ships, marine vehicles, flood control systems, and energy generation controls. Additional opportunities relate to key export sectors such as electrical equipment, advanced fabrication of metal products, medical equipment, and specialized machinery.
With direct rail, port and interstate access, Sparrows Point holds potential for distribution and logistics parks that add value to the supply chain. New concepts such as "freight villages," for example, offer warehousing space for various term leases, along with equipment and services supporting logistics and distribution activities.
Environmental condition of the property
Despite environmental contamination from more than 100 years of steelmaking, the Partnership concluded that environmental constraints should not deter industrial redevelopment for the vast majority of Sparrows Point. Remediation and redevelopment of about 80% of the site - approximately 2,400 acres -- should be feasible in the not-too-distant future. Five areas with the most serious contamination, totaling about 600 acres primarily at Coke Point, would require extensive, challenging remediation, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.
"For generations, Sparrows Point and the industrial neighborhoods
of East Baltimore County have represented the promise of good paying jobs and the potential for greater economic prosperity," concluded County Executive Kamenetz. "We now have a broad vision for how we can return that promise back to reality."