Sparrows Point's new owners are setting a three-month deadline for interested parties to bid on the idled steel mill complex — in whole or in pieces.

That's slightly longer than the 10 weeks the Baltimore County property was marketed during its previous owner's bankruptcy case. Environmental Liability Transfer, a St. Louis redevelopment company, and liquidation firm Hilco Trading won the bidding in August and closed on the $72.5 million deal earlier this month.

Now the complex is for sale again — a turning-point moment that will determine whether steelmaking is part of the site's future or just its past. Would-be buyers must submit bids by Dec. 21, with an auction set for Jan. 3 if needed.

Gary Epstein, chief marketing officer with Hilco, which is handling the Sparrows Point marketing, said a "number" of companies have expressed interest, including steelmakers.

"We'd like nothing more than to help get people back to work, if that's possible," he said.

Hilco said in its materials for investors that it would consider bids on the entire complex, on "key components" such as individual steel production lines or on "non-essential" equipment.

Buyers opting for key components would be allowed to move them elsewhere. Or, Hilco said, they could "operate one or more independent steel production lines or the entire Sparrows Point mill without being the landowner of the underlying property," receiving an "indemnification for all past environmental liabilities." More details are at hilcoind.com/sparrowspoint.asp.

Environmental Liability Transfer, which owns the land outright as part of its joint venture with Hilco, has said that the more than 3,000-acre site is large enough to allow for simultaneous steelmaking and redevelopment.

About 2,000 people worked at Sparrows Point when RG Steel declared bankruptcy in late May and began idling the plant. Many hope a steelmaker will restart operations at the site.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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