The Michigan Economic Development Corp., which offers incentives to start such projects, did not return requests for comment. MEDC CEO Quentin Messer previously told Crain’s that funding from the SOAR (Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve) fund, authorized by state lawmakers late last year, would help job selection consultants state court sites.
Neeley said the deal to revitalize one of the state’s largest brownfields would be a game-changer for Flint.
“This particular project will amount to the largest business transaction this community has seen in the past five decades,” the mayor said.
Susan Harvey, senior vice president of the Midwest region of Ashley Capital, told Crain’s last week that if the deal is finalized, construction could begin next year and include 3.5 million square feet of light industrial space. She said no tenants have been chosen for the site.
“I could definitely see a manufacturing tenant attracted to this property,” she said. “There is a shortage of ready-to-start sites in the state. Our goal would be to turn that into a ready-to-start site that would be attractive.”
One of the developer’s major end users in Michigan is Amazon Inc. When asked if the e-commerce giant plans to set up a fulfillment center there, a company spokeswoman responded in an email. -mail: “Amazon has a policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation”.
The project would create 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, not including construction work to build the light industrial development, said Samantha Fountain, acting director of economic development for Flint. Ashley Capital said the jobs would pay more than $17 an hour, Fountain said.
“It’s going to be big on morale,” Neeley said. “It will change the region and the city of Flint as well as Genesee County, and it would also help provide a level of stability in our economic landscape.”
The city had been seeking for years to reactivate the sprawling site, which once symbolized automotive prowess but was abandoned after General Motors abandoned it during its bankruptcy in 2009.
As part of the bankruptcy settlement, the property came under the control of the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust (RACER Trust) in 2011. Since then, the trust has channeled around $30 million to clean up the site, Grant said. Trigger, Michigan cleanup manager. for RACERS.
The Buick City site covers 413 acres. The trust, founded to clean up and restore former GM factories, owns 364 acres after selling two parcels totaling about 49 acres for redevelopment.
Most of the cleanup work involved stopping the oil from leaking into a river, Trigger said, and most of it had been completed until PFAS was discovered at the site in 2018. The PFAS complicated the cleanup, but RACER and Ashley Capital have reached an agreement that would allow the development to move forward while the remediation works.
Under the purchase and redevelopment agreement, Ashley Capital would take 290 acres in the initial deal, and the remainder — where PFAS remains an issue — once the site is clean, Trigger said.
It’s similar to the deal the trust struck with the developer of the former 116-acre GM Delco chassis plant in Livonia.
“We can sell the property and continue to do our cleanup work after the sale,” Trigger said. “It allows us to sell property, without waiting for all the environmental work to be done, which in the past has been a challenge for some of these sites.”
Bruce Rasher, RACER Trust’s redevelopment manager, said the trust had agreed to sell the Buick City site at a “nominal” cost. He said RACER screens potential buyers based on their development experience, track record, access to capital, and access to tenants and end users.
“Without a doubt, we have that at Ashley Capital,” Rasher said. “They are the real deal.”