Baltimore County support sought for $2M state loan for potential Amazon center at Tradepoint

Site of Tradepoint Atlantic at Sparrows Point.
Site of Tradepoint Atlantic at Sparrows Point.(File / Baltimore Sun)

Amazon is considering opening another distribution center in the Baltimore area, according to Baltimore County officials who hope to lure the e-commerce company to Sparrows Point.

The proposed distribution center would be located at a former steel mill that Tradepoint Atlantic is redeveloping into an industrial and transportation hub.


"An Amazon fulfillment center at Tradepoint Atlantic would be a great match for Sparrows Point," Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. "If plans for the Amazon center are finalized, by the end of next year there will be more people working at Sparrows Point than when the steel mill closed in 2012."

Officials with Tradepoint Atlantic declined to comment and officials with Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

The Baltimore County Council is considering a resolution that would endorse a $2 million conditional loan for the potential Amazon distribution center. Conditional loans generally do not have to be repaid if the company receiving the loan meets targets such as creating a certain number of jobs.

Amazon plans to hire 50,000 people across the country, including 1,200 in Maryland, to work in its fulfillment facilities, the company said Wednesday.

Officials with the state Department of Commerce, which would fund the proposed loan, would not comment on the Amazon proposal. Kamenetz's staff would not say if the county would offer any financial incentives.

County Councilman Todd Crandell, who represents the Sparrows Point area, said he hopes a deal goes through, as it could bring 1,500 jobs to an area that he said sorely needs them. He said Amazon likes to get its financial incentives in writing before committing to a project, and that's why the resolution is before the County Council before the deal is finalized.

"They want the incentives in writing and ready to go," said Crandell, a Dundalk Republican. "There is nothing signed and sealed for Amazon to come to Sparrows Point. This is getting the ducks in a row."

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The council resolution states that the Department of Commerce has determined a distribution center would provide an economic development opportunity to the county. The loan would be used for "cost associated with the acquisition, construction, leasehold improvements, site improvements, infrastructure improvements, purchase of equipment and other assents."

The County Council routinely approves resolutions in support of state financial incentive packages for development projects. A vote one on the resolution is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 2.


The proposed Amazon distribution center at Tradepoint Atlantic is separate from Amazon's search for a city to build a secondary headquarters. Tradepoint Atlantic had been floated as a possible site for the massive project, but Baltimore County and state officials have instead suggested the Port Covington development in South Baltimore as the best site in the Baltimore region. Others have promoted Prince George's County as a good pitch for the Amazon secondary headquarters.

If an Amazon distribution site was built at Tradepoint — the former site of Bethlehem Steel mill — it would be seven miles from Amazon's existing million-square-foot distribution center on Broening Highway in Baltimore City.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to open a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center with 700 employees in Cecil County as well.

The Cecil County project received a $1.2 million loan from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance and Authority Fund, while Cecil County's government approved a $120,000 conditional loan.

Tradepoint Atlantic is redeveloping the shuttered Sparrows Point steel mill into an industrial and transportation complex that capitalizes on the 3,100-acre site's access to a port, rail lines and highways.

At its peak in the late 1950s, the Bethlehem Steel mill employed more than 30,000 workers.


After a series of ownership changes, the mill closed for good in 2012 when then-owner RG Steel filed for bankruptcy. At the time, it employed 2,000 workers.

Since Tradepoint Atlantic, formerly Sparrows Point Terminal, bought the property in 2014 it has attracted a number of tenants. The first big-name tenant, FedEx, will hold a grand opening ceremony Wednesday for its new distribution hub at Tradepoint.

Other tenants include auto importer Pasha Automotive, building materials distributor Atlantic Forest Products, a Harley-Davidson training school and Under Armour, which is building a 1.3 million-square-foot, 1,000-employee distribution center for online orders.

Under Armour received a similar $2 million conditional state loan, and the state said it would fund an additional $2 million in property and infrastructure improvements for Under Armour through the Maryland Economic Development Corp.