Nine months into its transformation from abandoned steel mill to modern industrial business park, the 3,100-acre Sparrows Point property in Baltimore, Md., has shed enough of its blighted recent history to begin courting prospective manufacturing and logistics tenants.
Developer Sparrows Point Terminal LLC named Chicago-based JLL in June to provide real-estate services for the massive redevelopment. Parsons Brinckerhoff will create a master plan for 2,400 developable acres to incorporate existing infrastructure such as 100 miles of short-line railroad and a 42-ft-deep port with a turning basin and a 1,150-ft pier.
Since before the property's purchase last September for $110 million, demolition contractor MCM Management Corp., Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has overseen the removal of multiple facilities and other built elements that supported more than 100 years of steelmaking that ended in 2012.
Many cleanup workers are former employees of the plant, long owned by Bethlehem Steel. A 32-story blast furnace and 200-ft-tall exterior structure, both built in 1978, were imploded in January.
A host of environmental issues from the site's past uses also must be addressed, including asbestos and other toxic materials in buildings, soil, groundwater and adjacent waters.
As part of a consent order with the state, Sparrows Point LLC is contributing $48 million to support cleanup operations, including work underway since the steel plants closed. "This approach allows work to continue on issues already identified, while site- specific action can be focused on areas where construction is likely to take place first," says Maryland Dept. of the Environment Project Manager Barbara Brown. She says the owners have submitted plans to remediate the entire site "on an aggressive schedule."
To make what's left at Sparrows Point suitable for new occupants, plans include improvements to above- and below-ground infrastructure as well as renovation of structurally stable buildings.
Demolition work is set to continue through 2016, but work on the site's first warehouses could begin during the year, says JLL Managing Director Mark Levy. "There's a very extensive scope of work that will have to be done over the foreseeable future. It's a full-on redevelopment."