Port Authority board seeks final proposals for Southport development

SOUTH14
Aerial photo of a portion of the Southport area of the Navy Yard. Final proposals to develop as much as 195 acres of land at the eastern end will be accepted from six groups.

The groups that would like to develop the eastern end of the Navy Yard known as Southport include a real estate group funded by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), a local Philadelphia refinery, and the politically connected but unsuccessful bidder for Philadelphia Gas Works, Liberty Energy Trust.

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, which owns the land and plans to lease it, on Tuesday eliminated one of the seven original proposals.

Six groups will now be asked to submit financial and development plans.

Among those that made the short list are local real estate development company Liberty Property Trust which wants to build a warehouse on 75 acres, and Southport Development Partners comprised of local maritime business owner John Brown and Penn City Investments, Morgan Stanley, and OHL Infrastructure, a multinational construction firm and port operator.

The PRPA received seven responses for "request for qualifications" to commercialize 120 empty waterfront acres on the Delaware River south of the Walt Whitman Bridge, the city's first major maritime expansion in 50 years.

Southport also includes 75 acres around an old seaplane hanger at the Navy Yard, as well as the north berth of Pier 124 on the Delaware.

Proposals ranged from a traditional marine terminal with ship berths to handle container and other cargoes to combinations of an energy port, warehouse, and automobile processing space. About 150,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles arrive here annually on ships from South Korea, headed to dealer showrooms.

One group, which called itself "World Trade Center" with backing from New York investment firm Carl A. Marks, was eliminated because it had little to do with the port. They proposed an office complex on part of the land with a variety of tenants, including technology, university, port and shipping, general office, and retail.

"It's a great start for Southport," said Gerard "Jerry" Sweeney, port authority chairman, after the PRPA board voted unanimously with one abstention to move forward and get final proposals.

Three groups are seeking to develop the entire 195 acres.

CenterPoint Properties Trust, whose equity member is the California pension fund (Calpers) real estate group, would build wharves for "roll on/roll off" vehicles, and wharves to handle containers and general cargoes. The seaplane hangar would be used for vehicle processing and storage. Also in the plans are a logistics park and warehouse, and a grain silo and conveyor system on Pier 124.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which runs the former Sunoco refinery in South Philadelphia, wants to build an import/export facility for crude oil and refined oil products. Phase 1 would be four 250,000 barrel tanks for storing crude and four 250,000 barrel tanks for storing gasoline and diesel. PES would build a "buoyed dock" to off-load and load ships. Large pumps and piping would connect the facilities to PES refineries.

Phase 2 would be two additional 250,000 barrel tanks for storing crude for export. PES said it would open the rest of the land for "nonenergy cargoes."

Southport Development Partners propose two ship berths initially, with warehousing and auto storage for 9,000 cars. Pier 124 would handle vessels carrying the cars. The 75 acres known as Southport West would store and detail the vehicles. A later phase could include a third ship berth, an energy park, and more container cargo capacity.

One group, Liberty Consortium, whose equity member Liberty Energy Trust sought to acquire PGW, wants only the 120 acres on the Delaware for a container port, with one berth and rail spur, followed by a second berth and three cranes, and later an additional ship berth.

Two submissions were for only the smaller 75-acre site, and possibly Pier 124:

Liberty Property Trust would put 800,000 square feet of warehouse space in two buildings, and may use Pier 124 "but no details provided."

USD Group., based in Texas and operator of logistics terminals, would use 30 acres for "bulk product processing" and storage, and 45 acres for auto storage. Later development for Pier 124 might include handling bulk liquids, such as energy and fertilizer.

lloyd@phillynews.com

215-854-2831

@LoydLinda

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