Blue Bridge Considers Lear Plant


    WALKER — Blue Bridge Ventures LLC has held an option to purchase the massive Lear Corp. plant at 2150 Alpine Ave. in Walker for several months. And if the due diligence process produces a reasonable construction cost, Blue Bridge intends to close on the deal early next year.

    The plant, which the automotive interior supplier plans to vacate by the end of the year as part of its plan to cut operational losses, stretches for more than 41 acres and offers nearly 800,000 square feet of space. But the proposal that BlueBridge has for the site would reduce some of that square footage.

    “The main plant is one very large building, probably from 250,000 to 300,000 square feet, and it has 54-foot clear-ceiling heights. Then they added on to it in two different stages that go farther toward the north and are connected with a couple of out buildings that are not significant,” said Jack Buchanan, Blue Bridge CEO and partner.

    Buchanan told the Business Journal that the idea is to partition the space into multiple facilities and sell or lease those smaller, yet fairly sizable, sites to different tenants. He said four industrial buyers are interested in acquiring separate pieces of the building.

    “We will likely have four different users and divide the facility into four different buildings. Then we will redo the front along Alpine and build some retail there, and bring some life back into that area of the block,” he said.

    The building’s interior is what attracted BlueBridge to the deal.

    “It’s shocking how nice the inside is; you don’t expect to see that. The outside is a brick industrial building, but you don’t expect to see how nice the inside is. So the plan is to re-skin the exterior and make it look more contemporary to better match what is in the inside of the building,” said Buchanan.

    BlueBridge has commissioned S.J. Wisinski & Co. to find tenants for the project. David Levitt and Brad Rosely, associates with the commercial real estate company, are representing the firm in the acquisition and are heading the tenant search, which has the potential to add a lot of new jobs to the tax roll in Walker.

    “Based on some of our current negotiations with potential buyers and tenants, we believe we will have north of 1,500 jobs created in the near-term pending the final sale of the facility,” said Rosely.

    S.J. Wisinski Vice President Stu Kingma is representing Lear in the transaction. Price and terms of the sales agreement haven’t been revealed.

    Buchanan said Walker City Manager Cathy VanderMeulen and her staff and Right Place Inc., led by Redevelopment Specialist Rick Chapla, have willingly pitched in to move the project along.

    “The primary interest we’ve had is from buyers,” said Buchanan. “No one is going to buy 700,000 square feet. There is a market for 100,000 square feet. We’ve had one (inquiry) for 500,000 square feet, but most are probably going to be in the 100,000- to 200,000-square-foot range.”

    BlueBridge expects to have the due diligence work done by the first quarter of next year. The process includes an environmental survey on the property.

    “We’ve been working on it for quite a while. There is a lot to do on that. A lot of it is making sure we know what the construction cost is to divide the building into multiple buildings,” said Buchanan.

    “We’re intending fully to market it at a rate that won’t be a high price, but will get it moved quickly both for sale and for lease.”    

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