The Falls Supervisors on Monday approved a developer’s agreement with NorthPoint Development that will guide the redevelopment of 10 million square feet of the U.S. Steel property over the next decade.
Monday’s special meeting was a continuation of the Dec. 7 meeting with NorthPoint, which featured a sketch plan presentation outlining how the phased repurposing of the massive 1,846.4-acre property would create 5,000 to 10,000 new light industrial jobs.
NorthPoint Chief Strategy Officer Jed Momot told the Supervisors last week that the company intended to file the first phase of land development plans either by the end of this year or early 2021. The approval of the developer’s agreement will help to simplify that process, according to township attorney Mike Clarke.
“They want to cover certain things as it relates to the entire site and not each individual project,” Clarke told the board.
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 reviewed, Clarke said. It also stipulates that traffic studies are required. NorthPoint will submit an “overall traffic study,” Clarke said. However, 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 If the Supervisors determine that the traffic study is “outdated or needs to be supplemented,” the governing body can request that another study be undertaken.
NorthPoint is still negotiating a municipal services agreement with Falls Township, Clarke said.
“Our police don’t patrol down there on a regular basis,” he said, noting that the township 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, Clarke said. A formal municipal services agreement could be ready for consideration at the Supervisors’ January or February meeting, he said.
The Supervisors tabled a resolution recognizing the Morrisville Municipal Authority as the provider of all water and sanitary sewer related utilities serving the properties. Supervisor Chairman Jeff Dence said the board would consider that during its regular monthly meeting on Dec. 21.
NorthPoint Development plans to construct 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings totaling 10 million square feet, with the potential for 15 million square feet. Momot told the board previously that the project would bring companies like GM, Amazon, Chewy, Walmart, UPS, FedEx and more to Falls Township.
NorthPoint intends 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 Falls Township site is attractive for various reasons, chief among them its proximity to interstates 95 and 295, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well as its easy access to rail, port, and heavy built roadways, Momot said. In addition, a one-day truck drive from the site could reach 40 percent of the U.S. population, he said.
As part of the redevelopment, Momot said NorthPoint will “revitalize and transform what’s there today” with upgraded and updated utilities and freshly paved roads and landscaping throughout.
The company also intends to spend $25 million in environmental remediation of the brownfield site. U.S. Steel cleaned up approximately 70 percent of the property. Momot said NorthPoint will undertake the remaining remediation efforts. Hazardous waste tenants would not be permitted, Momot said, adding that the current heavy industrial site will transition to light industrial warehousing operations.