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Trade Point Atlantic: Open for Business, at Taxpayers Expense
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 10th May 2017
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The star has lost some of its luster. (Photo credit/ Marine Association of Baltimore County)

 

The Post has come up with some interesting documents concerning TradePoint Atlantic (TPA) that may be of interest to some (like The Dundalk Eagle).  It takes some solid research to find these documents in places like land records, file drawers, and anything with a ‘nook and cranny,’ as the idiom goes.

In addition to that is the high expectations for TPA, as illustrated in this Sun article, which have not materialized.  Take, for example, this quote from the article:

“The property owner also is seeking state help for the redevelopment, including toll relief for vehicles traveling between the port and Sparrows Point via Broening Highway, Levy said.” 

That amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for infrastructure upgrades, breaks on building materials, and much more.

This paragraph is also rather interesting, discussing in the aggressive plans for TPA, as taken from the Sun’s article:

“Even as the demolition and cleanup continues, a 20-person JLL team is marketing the site globally, approaching retailers with e-commerce operations, same-day delivery firms and data centers, looking for tenants that can use the site’s deep-water berths, rail and highway access. Levy said the team has about 25 serious leads and plans to launch a formal marketing campaign in September. He hopes to see the site mostly redeveloped within 10 years.”

The goal here is to set some people, pols, and reporters (other than ours) straight regarding the issue as to what TPA’s actual role is. Some choice quotes from the FedEx lease should clear up some of those questions.

There is a lot of legal verbiage (or garbage, if you prefer), but there are some interesting parts of the lease language that are very telling. For example, a paragraph that puts the responsibility of contamination directly onto the lessee. More on that in a bit.

That example sets the record straight over the role of TPA as a landlord and not a developer. TPA does not build anything–it simply rents the huge amount of property that Redwood Capital purchased at a bankruptcy sale for $110 million on a former property that was bought for $1.1 billion.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Some sources said that RC was the only bidder. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll also see the name of Hilco Capital, whose main gig is to buy distressed property.  A sort of ‘Big Foot’ in the biz, one might say.

Now that we know what the actual role of TPA is, let’s look to another potential problem involving one of Baltimore’s own: Under Armour. According to the Sun, the UA deal was announced in the back in August 2016, with plans to open a “massive distribution warehouse on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill that will employ 1,000 people and serve as the company’s national hub to fulfill consumers’ online orders.”

That was back in 2016. Things have changed since then, as this CNN Money report illustrates. On top of that bad news is an article in the Sun with this quote:

“And given that one of the city’s largest public companies — Under Armour, which employs about 1,900 people locally — has missed revenue and earnings estimates over the past year and recently announced layoffs at one of its divisions, there may be fewer wealthy millennials able to fill high-rent apartments downtown in the coming year.”

This could further impact the potential plans for UA to lease and build a “massive distribution warehouse on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill that will employ 1,000 people and serve as the company’s national hub to fulfill consumers’ online orders,” as the Sun reported in this article.

If we add on the planned O’Malley failed green energy disaster that subsidized the wind turbine industry with more taxpayer-funded projects for TPA, we could be in the multi-million dollar range.  That is a another story we will look at down the line.

Getting back to the FedEx lease, the Post has obtained a copy of the lease language, and there are some interesting items the public needs know.

First, the agreement signed with TPA does not directly involve FedEx, but rather a company called Scannell Properties, which signs the lease and builds the distribution center, then subleases it back to FedEx.

Second, all of this activity will bring a total of a 150 jobs to the site.   In fact, some are now referring to the impact of TPA as ‘regional’ rather than a major contributor to the local jobs growth.

This a a far cry from Councilman Todd Crandell’s claim of jobs for the 7th District, and that is on top of his bill that shut out public input from any matters concerning TPA.  Here is the impetus behind that boondoggle:  “Crandell’s bill creating the revitalization district passed unanimously. It was co-sponsored by Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat.”

This is another one of those councilmatic courtesy issues.  To put it bluntly, it’s the blind leading the uniformed.

Crandell took campaign donations from TPA and then showed his true colors by choosing special interests over his constituents.

The lifeline TPA was supposed to create for the local economy is another aspect of crony capitalism.

Finally, if anyone from the area actually works at  TPA, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you or contact your east side Republican delegation so they can add you to the 10,000 quota of MD jobs.

(Note:  In two days part two of our exclusive look into the bloodbath caused by the trigger pullers in Baltimore City.)