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New Sparrows Point owner mum on future tenants

September 19, 2014 -- Aerial photograph of Sparrows Point. Photo by Tim Wheeler/staff
September 19, 2014 -- Aerial photograph of Sparrows Point. Photo by Tim Wheeler/staff (Tim Wheeler / Baltimore Sun)

The new owners of the shuttered Sparrows Point steel mill in Baltimore County said Thursday that potential tenants are "banging down our door" for the opportunity to move to the site.

But Mike Pedone, chief operating officer for Sparrows Point Terminal, declined to offer any details of potential tenants or when they might move in to Sparrows Point, which his company is redeveloping into an industrial project. The Maryland Port Administration already has expressed interest in using part of the property to store material dredged from shipping channels.

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Pedone said there could be some "short-term" uses of the site in the first year, but "there's a lot of work that's going to take years." Environmental remediation remains and much of the infrastructure — sewer lines, rail lines, roads — needs to be upgraded first, he said.

Pedone spoke following a press conference at Sparrows Point that featured politicians and community leaders championing the project's potential to revive industrial activity and restore jobs to southeastern Baltimore County.

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Sparrows Point Terminal was formed earlier this year to buy the steel mill property and is an offshoot of Redwood Capital Investments LLC, a local firm associated with entrepreneur Jim Davis, who founded the staffing firm Aerotek with his cousin, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

Sparrows Point Terminal took ownership of the 3,100-acre property in September, after agreeing to a $51 million environmental cleanup plan to be overseen by state and federal officials. The company's ultimate goal is to create a "transportation, manufacturing and logistics campus" on the industrially-zoned land.

Sparrows Point is best known as the home of Bethlehem Steel, which began producing steel at the site in 1889. After a series of ownership changes, the mill closed for good in 2012 after its then-owner, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy.

Business leaders and politicians — including gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz — said Thursday they were pleased to have a local owner who shares a vision for restoring the property to industrial prominence.

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"This community needs to see this commitment followed through," said James Russell, president of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.

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