The "Star of Bethlehem" is shining again in Sparrows Point this holiday season.

The star's 196 bulbs flickered to life during a brief ceremony Tuesday evening on the side of a water treatment plant — one of the tallest remaining buildings on the site of a steel mill that was closed in 2012 after more than a century of steel-making.


"We are both proud and honored ... to be able to continue the tradition," said Michael Moore, CEO of Sparrows Point Terminal, the company that owns the property.

Many local residents and former steelworkers hold a special place in their hearts for the star, which honors both Bethlehem Steel, which owned the mill for generations, and Bethlehem, traditionally regarded as the birthplace of Jesus, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas.

The star previously adorned the 320-foot-tall L Blast Furnace, which was built in 1978 and imploded this year. Sparrows Point Terminal officials say the star's new location will make it visible from the Beltway and the Key Bridge over the Patapsco River.

Dale Meyer was among a few dozen who turned out for the ceremony. A third-generation steelworker, he started in the pipe mill and moved to the mill's police force before leaving in 1983.

"It means so much to the community and myself," the Dundalk man said. "It seems like a commitment from Sparrows Point Terminal to keep the community in mind with what's going on."

Officials removed the star from the blast furnace and restored it before the implosion. For the past year, it has been in a parking lot adjacent to Sparrows Point Terminal's office building, where visitors would often snap pictures of it.

The water treatment plant will not be the star's final home; company officials hope to find a more prominent permanent location as the land is redeveloped.

Sparrows Point Terminal, a joint venture of the local firm Redwood Capital Investments and the Chicago-based liquidation and redevelopment firm Hilco, bought the shuttered steel mill last fall for $110 million.

The company plans to redevelop the site into a campus mostly for industrial uses. In recent months, officials have said they are interested in using part of the 3,100-acre property for retail.

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell, a Dundalk Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would give the property a special zoning status. The bill would allow properties of at least 2,500 acres approved for the county's most intense industrial zoning to also have light industrial and other uses.

The bill would give the property owners an easier path to approval of redevelopment plans.

"It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity," Crandell said.

At a hearing Tuesday, Mike Pierce of Kingsville said the bill would give Sparrows Point Terminal "carte blanche" to build whatever it wants.

Sparrows Point Terminal Chief Operating Officer Mike Pedone, who attended the hearing, said in an interview that the zoning change would help the company attract tenants.


The zoning code does not really take into account a project like Sparrows Point, he said.

"It's getting the code synced up with common sense," he said.

A vote is scheduled for Monday.