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Posted on Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 7:02 a.m.

Former GM Willow Run plant attracts $9 million offer from redevelopers

By Nathan Bomey

A developer based in Grosse Pointe Farms is pressing the trust that's managing General Motors' former Willow Run plant to accelerate the consideration of its $9 milion offer for the Ypsilanti Township facility, according to a Detroit Free Press report this morning.


Bruce Rasher (left) is managing the redevelopment efforts at the shuttered General Motors Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti Township. Grant Trigger (center) is the cleanup manager for the 36 former GM properties in Michigan that need environmental remediation. Cliff Lewis (right) is the new site manager at the Willow Run plant.

Nathan Bomey |

A.E. Equities Group Holdings told the Free Press that it's interested in acquiring several former GM properties and has already secured redevelopment commitments, including one from Chinese auto and battery maker BYD, which is partly owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

It was not immediately clear exactly how A.E. Equities Group would redevelop the 5-million-square-foot former transmission manufacturing plant, which sits on 335 acres adjacent to the Willow Run Airport.

The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust took control of 89 abandoned GM properties on March 31. The trust is charged with selling, repositioning and cleaning up all the sites.

The news about A.E. Equities Group Holdings' interest in the Willow Run plant comes after RACER redevelopment manager Bruce Rasher told in May that the trust had fielded several offers for the plant.

Rasher said he was holding off on considering the offers until he could launch a global marketing plan.

“There is an intense amount of interest on the part of developers in this site,” Rasher said.

GM employed more than 1,300 workers at the Willow Run plant when it announced in June 2009 that the plant would close by the end of 2010. The plant — built in 1941 by Henry Ford as a bomber manufacturing plant — employed more than 40,000 people during World War II.

The most marketable portion of the site is considered the 1 million-square-foot section GM spent a few hundred million dollars to renovate eight years ago.

“That portion of the building is high-quality space with recent renovations that we think is an ideal location for another user to step in immediately and reuse it,” said Grant Trigger, an environmental cleanup industry veteran hired to serve as the cleanup manager for the 36 Michigan properties that need remediation, in May.

Among the reasons the site is attractive to redevelopers is that the RACER Trust is spending $35.8 million to clean up the environmental problems there, a process that could last for decades.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Nice to find the top google hit on &quot;AE Equities&quot; at this website: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Tough to work up the requisite outrage level since no one else is interested in redeveloping the property. So like in the early 90's when the Japanese bought up everything they could get their hands on, now it's the Chinese. If they turn it into a facility to manufacture green energy components- which is what AE Equities claims they are involved in- it will mean quite a few jobs in an important new industry. The US congress seems intent on not doing anything about kick-starting US based manufacturing so the Chinese recognize the opportunity and they don't have to engage in ridiculous political gamesmanship. The see opportunity, they attack it.


Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Someone told me they are removing the office spaces there. Tearing them out I think. It'll be interesting to see if they do tear down or out this area. Otherwise, as for toxic? Ypsilanti has currently open for sale property on Michigan Avenue. Who knew that 60 years later we would realize the harm we did to the environment. Good luck with that mess.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Wow. Talk about low-balling. My house would have cost me less than the title and closing costs at that sq ft price. Inch for inch, that sale price would amount to 2-4 months rent for industrial space here. If no one else wants it though... the market must be pretty darned desperate. It would be great to see jobs come back to it though, before it sits dormant and deteriorates to wasteland like so many other factories.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Another landmark American property that is going to China! Great for the economy (of China)


Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

It's not going to China. It's staying in Michigan.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

Sounds like good things happening.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

Wow $1.80 per sq ft. is the best offer? Seems like a slam dunk for the developer, redevelop the newer 1 million sq ft and raze the other 4 million sq ft. The reclaimed scrap metal from 4 million sq ft, should fetch enough to cover the $9 million purchase price I would think.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Thank Goodness we are saving the Planet! Even though we don't have jobs! &quot;Among the reasons the site is attractive to redevelopers is that the RACER Trust is spending $35.8 million to clean up the environmental problems there, a process that could last for decades.&quot;

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Good thing the former owners are spending their own money to clean up after themselves, rather than letting the government do it.