By K.D. Norris
Late last year, the City of Wyoming signed an agreement with Franklin Partners, based in the Chicago area but with an office in Grand Rapids, to ramp-up redevelopment of an abandoned General Motors metal stamping plant, the Site36 industrial area off 36th Street SW just east of Highway 131.
While the company is pushing forward with a marketing campaign, including drawings depicting multiple possible industrial uses and building layouts for possible sales or lease of portions of the about 92-acre property, Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt says the city’s goals have not changed — they want the land redeveloped into industrial uses to take advantage of already in-place infrastructure.
The city also continues to be motivated to work with businesses looking at the site, including tax incentives and other actions.
“We are not looking for leasing options; we are looking for sales,” Holt said this week. “That doesn’t mean the Franklin Partners will not offer that as an option with them holding ownership of a particular site. The purpose of the marketing material is more about showing people what is possible and opening potential owners eyes to ideas that they may not have considered.”
Also according to Franklin Partners marketing materials, “The City of Wyoming is motivated to attract new jobs and can offer significant state and local tax incentives to attract large users to the site. … The City has also indicated that it is willing to provide an industrial facilities tax abatement (IFT) for future industrial development. This allows for a nearly 50% abatement of future property taxes on new buildings for up to twelve (12) years. The existence of both a brownfield plan and the City’s expressed willingness to work with future owners/tenants on these and other incentives sets this site apart from others.”
Holt says the incentives are also nothing new, as far as the city’s efforts to redevelop the site.
“This city has a track record of being very supportive of our business community,” Holt said. “We all have maintained the same principles about Site 36 from the very beginning. Our main goal is jobs, specifically quality jobs available to our residents. With jobs, other indirect benefits will be realized by the city.”
The site, with about 80 acres of “contiguous, shovel ready, manufacturing infrastructure,” according to Franklin Partners, is between Clay and Buchanan avenues south of 36th. According to multiple sources, it was purchased by the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority in 2010, after GM closed the plant in 2006 ending nearly 70 years of operation.
According to Holt, the City Council has had no additional discussion with Franklin Partners “since the agreement was executed to work with them as the developer of the site,” but “I know that Franklin Partners is continuing to work on marketing, site preparation and generating potential contacts as they begin to market the site.”
Franklin reportedly plans to remove a pedestrian bridge over 36th Street, built to connect the GM plant to a parking lot north of 36th Street, as well as to clean up the site after years of accumulated undergrowth and debris.
According to Franklin Partners marketing materials, the site — in addition to its access to US-131 and the Grand Elk Railroad yard — has its own Consumers Energy sub-station with up to 41 megawatt of dedicated power at T-1 rates, and can accommodate new facilities from 100,000 square feet up to 1,000,000 square feet. High-pressure natural gas and municipal water and sewer are also available on-site.
The city had been working with local entries The Right Place and NAI Wisinski, but, after being on the market for about four years, leaders expect that bringing Franklin Partners into the mix will get the effort moving once again.
“Franklin Partners’ history and reputation in West Michigan are very good,” Holt said. “We have worked with Franklin Partners on several projects and found them to be professional, knowledgeable and well connected. They have experience working with us and the projects we have worked together on have been extremely successful. We believe that relationship will assist us in redevelopment of the site.”