Olszewski plans 'community discussion' on financial help for Tradepoint Atlantic

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. plans to attend a civic association meeting Wednesday to gather feedback on a $78 million assistance deal proposed for Tradepoint Atlantic.

Olszweski announced that he hopes for an “in-depth community discussion” about the deal at a previously scheduled meeting of the Essex-Middle River Civic Council. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Victory Villa Community Center in Middle River.

The council already planned to learn more about the details of the financial assistance deal from representatives from Tradepoint Atlantic, said Bob Bendler, president of the council. Then he got word that Olszewski planned to attend as well.

Bendler said Olszewski attended a candidates forum and promised to keep communities informed and involved. “It didn’t take him long to start delivering on that,” Bendler said. “We’re very encouraged.”

Olszewski, a Democrat who was sworn into office Monday, inherited the proposed Tradepoint Atlantic assistance deal from former County Executive Don Mohler.

Mohler proposed up to $78 million to help the company build roads, water lines and sewer pipes at the former steel mill property it is redeveloping in Sparrows Point.

For the water and sewer work, the county essentially would hire Tradepoint to build the infrastructure. Tradepoint would do the work, bill the county and receive up to $44 million in payment.

For road projects, the deal would reimburse Tradepoint up to $34 million for the work. Some of the money to pay Tradepoint may come from payments that the state makes to the county to make up some of the money the county loses out on because of property tax breaks that are given in enterprise zones. Sparrows Point is in a state enterprise zone.

The deal has been sent to the Baltimore County Council, which must approve it. The council has planned a public hearing Dec. 11 with a vote set for Dec. 17.

Tradepoint Atlantic officials have said they need help paying for the infrastructure that’s necessary to develop the entire 5-square-mile property. For about four years, the company has been turning the old mill into an industrial and logistics campus, with tenants such as warehouses for Amazon, FedEx and Under Armour and an auto-importing operation run by Pasha Automotive.

Tradepoint Atlantic initially requested up to $150 million in the form of government-assisted financing. Under that scenario, called “tax increment financing,” the government would have issued bonds to raise money for the project, then been paid back through a portion of the increased property taxes on the land.

The Essex-Middle River Council already voted to support the $150 million deal, so Bendler predicted the group would support the new deal, which he thinks is “considerably better” for taxpayers.

pwood@baltsun.com

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