FLINT, MI — Local government, philanthropic and Ashley Capital officials say they are making progress toward the redevelopment of the former Buick City complex and an official for the company says it is prepared to pitch leasing opportunities in Flint to companies it has worked with elsewhere — a list that includes Amazon, Ford Motor Co. and LG Electronics.
“We have a pretty deep bench of companies and tenants that are already in our portfolio,” Ashley Senior Vice President Susan Harvey said at the Buick City property on Thursday, Oct. 27. “For sure, we’re going to reach out to all of them to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have some space in Flint if you’d like to open a second operation.’ ”
Harvey said Ashley, one of the largest privately-held real estate investment companies in the United States, typically builds for tenants involved in light manufacturing but said it’s also going to be flexible with its Flint property, which will be developed in sections with the first building expected to be completed in early 2024.
“If a heavy manufacturer wants to come and take 100 acres out of the 350 and wants us to build them a manufacturing facility, we will do that,” Harvey said.
The city of Flint, Genesee County and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation have committed a combined $8.5 million to help fund site work at the property and the state of Michigan is expected to match that amount in an effort to bring life back to one of the state’s largest brownfield sites after more than a decade of dormancy.
“This day has been a long time coming,” Mott Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Ridgway White said during a news conference at the property on Thursday, calling the Ashley redevelopment a “unique window of opportunity” for Flint.
“I can’t wait to see the site cleaned up, steel rising and ultimately, Flint and Genesee County residents getting back to work at Buick City,” White said.
Ashley has said it expects to spend nearly $350 million over time in Flint and for nearly 3,000 jobs to have been created once the industrial park is complete.
Harvey said the company is prepared to close on its purchase of roughly 300 acres at Buick city once the current property owner — Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust (RACER) — completes environmental agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
RACER is the trust created to manage the remediation and resale of properties abandoned by General Motors during its 2009 bankruptcy.
Parts of its Buick City property contain soil and groundwater contaminated with various petroleum products, chemicals and metals, according to the EPA, which has been overseeing RACER’s environmental assessment and cleanup at the site.
Ashley has an option to purchase the remaining 50 acres of Buick City once remediation on that ground is complete, Harvey has said.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley and other city and county officials credited Ashley for taking on the daunting redevelopment job here and the partnership that’s supporting the company’s investment.
3rd Ward Councilman Quincy Murphy said he’s seen the boom and bust at the Buick City property and is ready to watch the site return to life.
“I grew up down the street on Marengo (Avenue), right here in between Industrial (Avenue) and Selby (Street),” Murphy said. “I can remember when I was a young man … selling candy to the GM workers.
“I saw the transition of the site go from thriving industrial … with thousands of jobs to just nothing but concrete slabs. We always wondered: Will this ever be redeveloped? … Here you see it.”
Read more at The Flint Journal:
GM left Buick City in worse condition than a ‘normal brownfield,’ buyer says
Buick City redevelopment plan calls for $17M from taxpayers
GM vehicles can stay at Buick City during redevelopment, potential buyer says