The Falls Supervisors during Monday’s virtual meeting moved forward with a massive redevelopment project aimed at bringing thousands of new jobs and millions of square feet of new industry to the township.
By July, shell construction is expected to be underway on the first 1 million square feet of the large-scale warehouse project consisting of more than 1,800 acres at the former U.S. Steel site. The initial phase will be constructed on 100 acres situated on the eastern side of River Road, south of Biles Creek on the eastern portion of the development. Plans call for a 49-foot-high warehouse with 196 doors, 475 parking stalls, including 18 handicapped parking spaces. Trucks would enter the site primarily via Tyburn Road and Route 13.
In unanimously granting preliminary and final land development approval to NorthPoint Development, LLC, the board set the wheels in motion for the buildout of up to 15 million square feet of warehousing, which is expected to create between 5,000 and 10,000 new light industry jobs.
“One down, 14 to go,” Supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence said following the board vote.
NorthPoint plans to carry out the multiple phase warehouse project with 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings for various Fortune 500 companies.
NorthPoint will invest $1.5 billion into the transformation of the site, which it renamed The Keystone Trade Center. In all, the developer will spend an estimated $40 million to $45 million to remediate the site. Falls officials are working to ensure that NorthPoint contributes its fair share to police and fire service, as well as road maintenance too. Falls officials, along with Pennsbury School Board and the Bucks County Commissioners last year approved designating the site a Keystone Opportunity Investment Zone, which exempts NorthPoint Development from taxes for a 15-year period through Dec. 31, 2035. While NorthPoint would not be required to pay real estate taxes as part of the KOIZ designation, the Falls Supervisors approved a payment in lieu of tax agreement requiring the developer to pay 110 percent of taxes owed.
In response to a suggestion in the Bucks County Planning Commission’s report, Supervisor John Palmer asked NorthPoint officials about the prospect of incorporating solar energy into the project, especially given the flat roofs, which officials said is ideal for solar panels.
NorthPoint Development Manager Matt Gaston said green energy is not planned for the first phase, but it will continue to be evaluated in subsequent phases. Warehouses are built to suit, and solar power tends to be driven by tenants’ decisions, officials said. Most of the markets where green energy makes the most sense are on the West Coast, where sunshine and warm weather are more constant year-round.
In addition to advancing the warehouse project, the Falls Supervisors on Monday also granted approval for a minor subdivision for a 54-acre parcel situated in the southwest corner of the site where a wastewater treatment facility is located. Morrisville Municipal Authority, the provider of the site’s water and sewer-related utilities, will construct its new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility on the site. The plant is expected to be operational within the next four years.
“This is a good thing for Falls Township residents,” Dence said, noting that the Township of Falls Authority will receive compensation as a result of the project.