A renaissance of hope has begun at Flint’s long abandoned Buick City site on the city’s North Side.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on June 5 announcing the start of construction on Building #1 at the all new Flint Commerce Center Industrial Park, making official Ashley Capital’s redevelopment of the massive former General Motors Buick City manufacturing complex.
The ceremony, which took place off Industrial Avenue, was led by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, US Representative Dan Kildee, Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Mott Foundation President and CEO Ridgeway White, State Senator John Cherry, State Representative Cynthia Neeley, Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance’s Tyler Rossmaessler, and Elliot P. Laws, Administrative Trustee of the RACER Trust.
Building #1 and all future Flint Commerce Center buildings are being developed by Ashley Capital, one of the country’s largest privately held industrial real estate investment firms. In addition to building on sites such as Buick City, Ashley Capital uses its expertise in development, property management, leasing, and finance to develop industrial parks by transforming obsolete buildings and brownfields into state-of-the-art facilities.
When completed, the Center will generate a total investment of $300 million to construct up to 10 buildings, creating 3.5 million square feet of space and generating thousands of jobs.
Governor Whitmer spoke of the turnaround beginning in Flint with this particular development and General Motors’ recent announcements of major investments in their facilities in Flint. The governor also spoke of the investments underway across Genesee County.
Congressman Kildee reminisced of his grandfather walking the few short blocks from the family home on Jane Street to his job at the Buick Plant.
Senator Cherry fondly remembered his childhood at Lowell School whose upper floors overlooked the massive complex,
Mayor Neeley spoke of the new birth of hope in a city in need of such investment and moving forward.
Others spoke of their pride in being able assist in this endeavor to revitalize, not only the North Side of Flint, but the city itself.
Mott Foundation President Ridgeway White spoke of how proud the foundation is in assisting funding this project to generate facilities and jobs in the City of Flint.
Ashley Capital closed on the first 20 acres of the site earlier this year and is working with RACER to acquire the remaining 300+ acres of the site. That transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August this year.
This redevelopment effort is supported by approximately $3.25 million in Flint ARPA funds, $2 million from the CS Mott Foundation, and $8.5 million from the State of Michigan Strategic Fund.
RACER will continue to assess and remediate environmental issues at the site.
The groundbreaking marked the official start of construction for Building #1, a 330,000 square foot spec build expected to be ready for occupancy by Spring of next year.
Ashley Capital’s Senior Vice-President, Susan Harvey said: “We’ve made this massive investment because we think Flint is a good place to be, with an excellent partner in the City of Flint, a strong workforce, great infrastructure, and ready access to expressways, rail, air and abundant electricity.”
“It took a major partnership between RACER Trust, the State of Michigan, City of Flint, Mott Foundation, and Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance to make this historic reclamation of formerly abandoned brownfields a reality. We are incredibly excited to move forward with this development and see the positive economic impact it will undoubtedly bring to the Flint area.”