New life for former power plant

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Forsite Development said it is nearing the end of its demolition on the old B.C. Cobb power plant site in Muskegon and soon will be turning its attention to redevelopment.

Tom McKittrick, CEO and founder of Forsite, said demolition of the plant is effectively complete, but there is some additional site work that needs to be completed, including the removal of underground storage tanks and other environmental hazards.

“We’re in the final environmental stages with the state. (It’s) hard to estimate when that will be closed out, but hopefully less than a year,” McKittrick said.

Located on the shore of Muskegon Lake, just over a mile from Lake Michigan, the former B.C. Cobb facility offers a 1,200-foot dock allowing cargo to be loaded and unloaded on both sides.

Forsite plans to convert the area into a deep-water marine terminal that will enable multiple maritime cargos to be shipped from Muskegon Lake.

Longtime tenant Verplank Dock Co., a Michigan-based port terminal operator with several facilities around the state, plans to consolidate its operations at the B.C. Cobb facility. The company previously leased a portion of the dock from the former property owner, Consumers Energy.

“Once we acquired it, we entered into some discussions for them to acquire the entirety of the dock,” McKittrick said.

Per the agreement, Forsite will lease the property to Verplank with an option to buy, McKittrick said. Forsite is prohibited from selling the property until it is done with decommissioning work.

The coal-fired power plant was shut down in 2016 by Consumers Energy. It opened in 1948 and was named after Bernard “Burt” Capen Cobb, a former Consumers president.

McKittrick added Forsite Development purchased the J.R. Whiting power station in Luna Pier from Consumers around the same time it acquired the B.C. Cobb property.

The main attribute of the J.R. Whiting site is its rail infrastructure, and Forsite is aggressively marketing the site to freight companies, but the company hasn’t landed a project yet, McKittrick said.

As an industrial real estate redevelopment company, Forsite Development is in the business of acquiring and redeveloping large-scale industrial sites, McKittrick said.

“There’s a market phenomenon with all these coal plants shutting down in a short amount of time,” McKittrick said. “We developed a plan for acquiring them and redeveloping them. There’s great opportunity to breathe new life into some of these sites.”

Consumers Energy has plans to shut down further coal-fired plants under its Clean Energy Plan, according to previous Business Journal reports.

The energy provider committed to reduce 90% of the carbon emissions it generates by eliminating the use of coal and working with customers to use energy more efficiently. Consumers Energy expects to avoid the need to build three new power plants with customers’ help.

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