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Wednesday, November 9, 2022
• Project will bring in-demand spec industrial space to the region, attract new businesses to Flint • Redevelopment will transform one of state’s largest brownfield sites into economic driver in the region • MSF support expected to drive additional private investment of up to $300 million
LANSING, Mich. – Redevelopment of the Buick City site in Flint to provide in-demand industrial space has received Michigan Strategic Fund support, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. When fully completed, the project is expected to result in a 3.5 million square foot, state-of-the-art light industrial space and will represent the largest investment in North Flint in decades.
Altogether, this project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $300 million and consist of up to 3.5 million square feet of state-of-the-art, light industrial distribution space, and could eventually house between 2,000-3,000 jobs on the site.
“By investing in the Buick City site, one of the largest brownfields in the state, we are creating long-term economic opportunity in Flint, boosting the state’s inventory of industrial facilities, and securing future investments in Michigan for years to come,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This project will transform an underutilized property into functional, available space that is vital for ongoing business attraction and expansion efforts in the region.”
The Flint Commerce Center, LLC, an entity of Ashley Capital, plans to redevelop the former Buick City Site in the city of Flint to prepare the site for a 275,000-square-foot industrial building that is expected to lead to further development at the site.
The proposed project will act as a catalyst to attract jobs to the area by providing critically needed, new speculative development as well as shovel-ready sites for future potential regional opportunities. In addition to cleaning up one of the largest and most significantly blighted and contaminated industrial sites in the state, the activation of the industrial space is critical in addressing the shortage of space in the city of Flint and the state.
“The redevelopment of Buick City is an important win for the Flint community and our state, and signals our commitment to both growing our inventory of industrial sites and creating economic opportunity for our friends and neighbors,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board. “We appreciate the hard work of Team Michigan, including our partners in the legislature, the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration and our local partners to return the Buick City site to productive use and put businesses and residents in Genesee County on a stronger path for future economic growth. Significant work remains, yet this is an important celebratory next chapter.”
Market analysis has repeatedly shown that large, move-in-ready sites are in demand. Supporting this type of property remains vital to retaining existing companies in the state as they grow and offers opportunities to attract new companies here to Michigan.
“Ashley Capital’s redevelopment of the Buick City brownfield is a game-changer for economic growth in the Flint community and the entire region,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “This will have a transformational impact on economic opportunity and quality of life for Flint residents. We’re taking one of the largest brownfield sites in Michigan and transforming this liability into an asset for economic development.”
The cost of the site preparation, including removal of underground utilities and concrete slabs and foundations, is estimated to be $17 million. Flint Commerce Center today received Michigan Strategic Fund approval of an $8.5 million MSF performance-based loan with the ability to be forgiven if construction milestones are met.
In addition to MSF support, $3.25 million in ARPA funds from Genesee County and $3.25 million in ARPA funds from the city of Flint will be reimbursed to the project for work as it is completed. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has also agreed to grant $2 million to the city to support the project.
“This project is a perfect example of the good things that can happen when the public, private and charitable sectors work together,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “I can’t wait to see the site cleaned up, steel rising and, ultimately, residents of Flint and Genesee County getting back to work at Buick City. The Mott Foundation is pleased to play a small role in making that happen.”
Established in 1984, Ashley Capital has a successful track record of utilizing available sites or remedying blighted properties to breathe life back into these sites, often before tenants are even secured to fill them. Learn more about Ashley Capital here.
“Ashley Capital is very excited about our plans to build a state-of-the-art industrial park on the former Buick City site. This development will be an economic driver for the area by increasing the economic base and providing employment opportunities,” said Ashley Capital LLC Senior Vice President Susan Harvey. “Construction activity will commence soon after the current property owner, RACER Trust, finalizes the necessary environmental agreements with EGLE. We are looking forward to getting started on this transformative project and becoming part of the Flint community.”
Today’s announcement builds on other recent MSF support for projects that create jobs and vibrancy in the Flint area. This includes recent support for Island Plastics, a plastics recycler that is building a state-of-the-art facility that will create 24 manufacturing jobs in the city and invest $8 million in the region. Meanwhile, in November 2021, Allegiant Air announced it was establishing a new operational base at Flint Bishop International Airport, which is expected to generate a total capital investment of $77 million and create 88 high-wage jobs as it brings new business and economic activity to the region.
Additionally, in July 2021, Governor Whitmer announced that a new co-op urban grocery store will soon be coming to the north side of Flint with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Intended to provide much-needed, affordable, healthy food options to area residents, the project is expected to revitalize a long-vacant building and help address health issues in the documented “food desert” of North Flint.
The Buick City site is one of the largest and most significantly blighted and contaminated industrial sites in the state. The property was the home of Buick Motor Company until 2010, when operations there ceased and the site sat vacant. Since then, redevelopment of the property has been a top priority for the state and the city of Flint.
“Buick City is important to not only the history of Flint, but also its future,” said Tyler Rossmaessler, executive director of Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance. “The redevelopment of this site will allow our region to compete for new jobs and industry in the global marketplace and generate tax revenue that will be invested into our schools, public safety and local infrastructure. The inter-governmental and public-private partnership supporting this project is innovative and can serve as a national model for effective economic development work.”
In 2011, the RACER Trust took ownership and sold portions of the site to two companies; however, a large majority of the site remains vacant today. Ashley Capital, one of the largest privately held industrial real estate investment companies in the United States, has secured a purchase agreement with RACER for the remainder of the site. RACER is currently performing environmental clean-up activities at the site and Ashley expects to close on the property in early 2023.
“RACER Trust appreciates the Michigan Strategic Fund’s support for this transformative and substantial redevelopment opportunity in the City of Flint,” said RACER Trust Administrative Trustee Elliott P. Laws of EPLET, LLC. “We are particularly pleased that so many partners — including the state, the City of Flint, Genesee County and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation — have united in support of Ashley Capital’s vision for the Flint Commerce Center and in recognition of the importance of this investment. We look forward to completing the sale and to what we know is a bright future for Buick City in Ashley Capital’s capable hands.”
Legislators Voice Support for Flint Commerce Center:
Congressman Dan Kildee
“I am focused on bringing jobs to Flint, including redeveloping Buick City. This new investment in Buick City, made possible in part by federal funding I delivered, will pave the way for thousands of new jobs in Flint and allow the entire community benefit from greater economic opportunity. I will always work to ensure Flint has all the tools it needs to revitalize Buick City and thrive.”
State Rep. John Cherry, D-Flint
“I would like to thank the MSF Board and the Governor for approving the Buick City project. This is a major win for Flint and Genesee County that will create thousands of jobs. I was proud to work with the Governor, MEDC, EGLE, and local partners to ensure this redevelopment came to fruition.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint)
“The Buick City Site is the biggest symbol of our region’s automotive history. It tells the story of when Flint’s economy drew workers from across the country and when we established our status as the premier leader in putting the world on wheels. Now, as Flint is poised to begin a new era, I can think of no better time to reinvent the legendary site.”
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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