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KTC Groundbreaking

Redeveloper Breaks Ground on Massive Industrial Park at Former US Steel Site in Falls Township

At its height, Fairless Works employed some 7,000 workers, and was one of the largest steel mills in the world.

In 2001, US Steel closed the storied Falls Township plant, leaving just hundreds of workers to remain for the next decade and stalling economic growth.

For years, there have been plans to reclaim those hey days, but with each hopeful project that failed to materialize, the skeptics grew. Could Fairless Works, and the 1,800 acres it sits on in Lower Bucks County, be remediated and redeveloped?

On Thursday, the answer was a rousing yes as the No. 1 industrial developer in the United States broke ground on the property along the Delaware River, ushering in a future that promises millions of square feet of warehouse and light industrial and thousands of jobs to support those operations.

The newly named Keystone Trade Center could become one of the largest of its kind over the next decade.

Kansas City, Missouri-based developer NorthPoint has plans to construct 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings totaling 10 million square feet. Officials said the project has the potential for 15 million square feet, making it the largest "Class A industrial development on the East Coast," said Jeremy Michael, NorthPoint's vice president of development.

Michael said previously that he hopes to have the first tenant occupying space by year’s end. NorthPoint expects to have the entire development completed in five to seven years, said Eric Yovanovich, project manager.

In 2020, NorthPoint unveiled its plans to invest more than $1 billion into remediation and redevelopment of the site to make way for proposed warehouses and logistics-centered industrial buildings. Northpoint confirmed earlier this month that it will invest $1.5 billion into the transformation and an estimated $40 million to $45 million for remediation.

"Capital goes where capital is welcome," Michael said, adding that NorthPoint, from the "Show Me" state, was able to show the initially skeptical Bucks County and Falls officials what they could do, and found "a tremendous amount of support" along the way.


The development, which is ideal for its location near major highways and e-commerce centers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware, is expected to create between 5,000 and 10,000 new light industry jobs once completed.

Several officials from Falls and the Pennsbury School District as well county Commissioner Chairman Bob Harvie, State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, and state Reps. Frank Farry, R-142, and John Galloway, D-140, spoke at the groundbreaking Thursday.

Harvie, a former teacher, gave a lesson in the history of the site, saying it once was "good soil watered by the Delaware" and as farmland fed many people. When it was operated by US Steel as one of the largest steel mills in the world, it fed many families again, and now it will do so for a third time, he said.

"This location will help feed thousands and thousands of families ... Success here will be success for the whole county," Harvie said, wishing the developers the best.
Fairless Works opened in 1952 just as the first homes in nearby Levittown were ready for families. By the 1970s, the acres were home to not only the steel mill, but a chemical plant and other accessory businesses.

Galloway said he remembered his brothers and others in the community working at the former U.S. Steel plant. When "those jobs left, it was difficult."

He said that there were several attempts to revive the site that didn't pan out over the last decade, so when NorthPoint proposed such a massive undertaking, he was a skeptic, but they kept coming back to township meetings as the plans progressed.

"Thank you for believing in the people of Lower Bucks County," he said.

Santarsiero recalled the legislative work to recreate the Keystone Opportunity Zone status for the complex.

All the property’s taxing authorities, including Bucks County, Falls and the Pennsbury School District, had to approve a tax abatement plan, which they did in 2020. The company will provide some funds for the Pennsbury School District to make up for the abatement, said Santarsiero and TR Kannan, president of the Pennsbury school board.

Despite the chilly, windy day, the sun was still shining on the project, Santarsiero said. "This is going to be a huge boost to the regional economy."

“Our vision," Jed Momot, NorthPoint chief strategy officer, told Falls Planning Commission previously, "is to create a class A industrial park and completely redevelop what’s out there today.”

Come out and learn Northpoint Development’s (NPD) plans for Bucks County, a speaker from NPD will at BCEDC’s Annual Meeting on September 21, 2022 held at Northampton Valley Country Club, Richboro.

In early 2021, NorthPoint closed on the purchase of the site from US Steel for $160 million. Falls supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence said he's looking forward to watching the redevelopment take shape now that the purchase went to settlement.
The first of the warehouses is on 100 acres situated on the eastern side of River Road, south of Biles Creek on the eastern portion of the development.

Michael said he anticipates breaking ground on the buildings for phase two this year, with completion in 2023. The overall development is expected to continue for another five or six years.
On Monday, an attorney for NorthPoint Development told Falls Township supervisors that the developer is "excited" to advance construction and, soon, "filling the park with tenants."

The supervisors approved an amended final land development plan that enabled NorthPoint to consolidate buildings one and two of the project’s first phase into an over 1.15 million-square-foot warehousing building, along with a 10,205-square-foot vehicle maintenance garage and a 1,219-square-foot salt storage building, officials said.

In addition to the modifying the amended final land development plan, the governing body also approved a minor subdivision of 14 acres at 150 Roebling Road, although no development is proposed yet for this tract.

"The NorthPoint Development purchase and reuse of the U.S. Steel property will put Falls Township on the map as the hub for one of the largest e-commerce centers on the East Coast," Dence said at the time. "This project will drive major economic development in our region. At a minimum, NorthPoint will create 5,000 new jobs, clean jobs for our community, with the potential for as many as 10,000 new jobs."

The Keystone Trade Center is one of many projects developed by NorthPoint, which states that since 2012 it has raised more than $9.5 billion in capital, developed and managed more than 126 million square feet of industrial space, created more than 65,000 jobs, and supported more than 423 industrial partners across the United States.

By Damon C. Williams, Peg Quann, Bucks County Courier Times.

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