Buick City Project

Michigan officials approved Wednesday an $8.5 million loan to a developer aiming to invest $300 million and bring up to 3,000 jobs to the former Buick City site in Flint. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. gave the OK to Ashley Capital for the loan, which will be forgiven if the company meets certain performance requirements, according to n MEDC briefing memo. The loan is intended to offset "prohibitive" pre-development costs estimated at $17 million to remove 267,000 linear feet of underground utilities, and 9 million square feet of building foundations and concrete slabs at one of the state's largest brownfield sites. Crain's reported Ashley Capital's plans for the site in April. Sprawled across 412 acres, the site once served as a symbol of automobile might for the Vehicle City before General Motors Co. abandoned it in bankruptcy in 2009. The RACER Trust (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust) was created by U.S. Bankruptcy Court two years later for the purpose of cleaning up the site for redevelopment. RACER owns about 364 acres of the site, which Ashley Capital is under contract to buy. Seating supplier Lear Corp. built a 150,000-square-foot plant on one of the parcels in 2017, and American Spiralweld Pipe Co. built a 183,000-square-foot plant on another in 2014. "(Ashley Capital) is looking to add the Buick City Site to its portfolio and without MSF support, the company will not move forward with the project," the MEDC memo said. If the project does move forward as envisioned, it would be the largest investment in Flint in decades. Upon securing the loan from the state, Ashley Capital committed to constructing a building of at least 275,000 square feet within three years of securing a permit, with hopes that will springboard development of the entire site. The development is also being supported by a $3.25 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation by the city of Flint, a $3.25 million ARPA allocation from Genesee County and a $2 million grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation. "The resulting increase in property tax, income tax, jobs, income for local families, spending in the local economy, and not to mention perception change for the City of Flint will have a positive economic affect that cannot be overstated," the MEDC said.