Could the former GM Willow Run Plant site soon house advanced technology companies?
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
The clock is ticking on redevelopment of the former GM Willow Run plant and the time is now to market the property to companies paving the way for new technologies, Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Paul Krutko said Monday.
Could the former 5-million-square-foot Powertrain Plant site be developed as a testing center for new technologies? Krutko hopes so.
"The site lends itself well for a testing center for new technologies," Krutko said this morning at the 2013 Eastern Leaders Group Summit.
"We think there's opportunity for some small aeriel devices. The ones we're talking about are the small ones that would go out and inspect a bridge. Right now we're working on bringing in market analysis in developing that type of project. ... Connective vehicle technology is coming. This is the next thing and we need to embrace it."
Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust took control of 89 abandoned GM properties on March 31, 2011. The trust was charged with selling, repositioning and cleaning up all the sites, 56 of which were in Michigan.
Although RACER has been tasked with selling the property, Krutko said SPARK has spoken with private sector entities who have shown interest. The powertrain plant is still for sale, as well as the Engineering Center, an office building attached to the main plant.
According to the company's marketing brochure, the total assessed value for the manufacturing building is $16,284,900, making its market value more than $32 million.
"We're actively looking for companies that have interest," Krutko said. "There is a lot of interest. The dynamics of the economy has made our region attractive to a number of foreign investors."
The redevelopment of the former Willow Run GM plant will continue to be vital moving forward, he said.
"As we all know, the plant does sit vacant," Krutko said. "This is a significant asset in terms of the amount of land mass and resources at that location... There is a clock on the disposing of that property. We've been focused on bringing our entrepreneurial services in full form to the eastern side of Washtenaw County."
The company will use the property to expand its jet engine repair and parts sales business. The purchase will create 25 new jobs over the next five years and the company plans to invest $50,000 in repairs and improvements to the building.
Krutko said SPARK is working with University of Michigan students to help develop an assessment plan to figure out what would be the best fit for the site.
"As that development happens, the nearby neighborhoods are beneficiaries," Krutko said. "... It's very important to start with a goal in mind and work toward that vision."