Sparta Foundry sale may be a month away


The Kent County Land Bank Authority has set a date to announce the sale of a key industrial property that will eventually bring much-needed jobs to the area.

The land bank is planning to make the announcement March 5 that it is selling the former Sparta Foundry.

“That’s going to happen this year,” said KCLBA Executive Director Dave Allen last week of the sale. “It’s under contract.”

The four-acre site at 252 Gardner St. in Sparta Township was the first reclamation project the land bank undertook. The agency gained possession of the tax-foreclosed property in early 2011 when the county commission transferred it to the bank, after the site failed to sell at two public auctions held in 2009.

The land bank has cleared and remediated the toxic site with help from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which had the property on its Part 201 list of contaminated parcels. The Right Place Inc. worked with the land bank on marketing the property to potential buyers.

Allen revealed last April that an unidentified manufacturing company from Europe was interested in purchasing the site. “They are very close to their due diligence,” he said then.

“Let me just tell you, it is extremely promising — so much so, I can also tell you that they’ve been looking at multiple sites and I was told the Sparta site has moved to the top of their list, eons ahead of any other site they’re looking at,” he added last April.

Allen and board members have kept the identity of the buyer a secret throughout the sale process.

According to county records, the last listed owner of the property was the Goetze Corp. of America, which reportedly had an office in Muskegon. Another record showed Federal-Mogul Bursheld GmbH, a German firm in the automotive industry, as the parent company of the Goetze Corp.

Goetze reportedly bought the property and its plant on the cheap, just for the materials it could recycle from it, and had no intention of actually operating it.

But Muskegon-based Kurdziel Industries purchased the foundry in 1998, invested $2 million into the plant, and produced small automotive castings there until it stopped production at the end of 2004 because it couldn’t match the lower prices of imported castings.

Kurdziel also owned a foundry in Rothbury, where it once made large auto castings. A private equity group bought the company in 2008.

The land bank has offered the property for $180,000. Once the legal, appraisal and survey costs are paid, the agency hopes to net about $171,000 from a sale.

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