Site36, the new name for a 93-acre industrial site on 36th Street in Wyoming, is being touted as ideal for one — or possibly two, but no more than that — major industrial facilities.
Last week, the public/private partnership of the city of Wyoming, The Right Place Inc. and West Bloomfield development company Lormax Stern announced that the semi-cleared site where the General Motors stamping plant once stood will be the focus of an intense marketing campaign.
“General Motors was an outstanding employer in this community for 73 years, providing thousands of jobs for the community. Now it is time to set the stage for the next generation of that site,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place.
“In marketing this site, we are marketing a vision,” said Klohs, “a vision for what this site could be for a company, and a vision for what this site could be for the city of Wyoming.”
Marketing the property “will require just as much relationship, cultivation and management than any other component of the plan,” she said. “This is a long-term plan. Finding the next user for this site will require hard work and dedication from this entire team.”
Klohs provided an overview of the development’s new website, www.site36plan.com, as well as a marketing video. The video and website, along with a printed brochure, lead-generation efforts, public relations, advertising and direct-mail campaigns will comprise the primary marketing elements.
Site36plan.com states that the cleared site is “the intelligent choice for smart manufacturing.”
The three-way partnership’s primary goal now is to secure one or two major manufacturers, ideally Fortune 100-type companies, according to Klohs.
The 2-million-square-foot plant opened in 1936 as one of GM’s major sheet metal stamping plants and the long-time home of some of the automaker’s most highly regarded tool and die makers. It was a major source of high-paying, hourly manufacturing jobs in the region and became Wyoming’s largest taxpayer.
GM halted production there in May 2009 as it was careening into bankruptcy. Later, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority gave the Wyoming Brownfield Redevelopment Authority permission to use state and local incremental tax capture over the coming years to pay for the demolition of the plant. That funding was estimated at almost $8.5 million.
When the industrial contamination in the soil at the former GM plant has been fully remediated and it is ready for development in late 2012, Site36 will already be pre-approved by environmental and government agencies for fast-track construction, according to Jason Horton of Lormax Stern, which also owns Centerpointe Mall at East Beltline Avenue and 28th Street SE.
One of the major attributes of Site36 is its being adjacent to a direct freight rail line, plus its proximity to U.S. 131. A new inter-local corporation, the West Michigan Economic Development Partnership, now permits local units of government to market and promote the development of land served by two or more modes of transportation. The partnership also allows local units of government to approve incentives such as Renaissance Zones, tax increment financing and tax abatements. The partnership is a cooperative of several municipalities within Kent and Muskegon counties and is sanctioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Next Michigan initiative.
“Next Michigan is another great tool for our toolbox and a great example of the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt. “The city of Wyoming has long been a proponent of developing meaningful partnerships that allow us to maximize resources. This partnership, in combination with innovative legislation like Next Michigan, will allow us to be successful in our mission to bring quality jobs to Site36.”
Last year, the RACER Trust, which was established by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the wake of the GM bankruptcy, sold the shuttered stamping plant to Lormax Stern, which then sold it to the city of Wyoming for the token price of one dollar. As a partner with the city, Lormax Stern will make money on the recycling of the metals that were in the former plant structure and the redevelopment of the site.