RACER Trust Update on Lansing, Lansing Township Properties

By Patricia Spitzley, Deputy Redevelopment Manager & Grant Trigger, Michigan Cleanup Manager, RACER Trust The RACER Trust team extends its appreciation to the Westside Neighborhood Association for hosting our meeting at Sexton High School on Wednesday, October 10.  It was a great opportunity to meet members of the community and give a status report on our activities at the former GM plant sites in Lansing and Lansing Township. RACER has been doing a lot of work at the sites with much more still to come.

In fact, since the October meeting Bierlein Companies, a Michigan-based company headquartered in Midland, is working on site.  Concrete crushers have begun the task of cleaning up the concrete debris and, weather permitting, that work will be completed in four to six four months.  The contractor is working during traditional workday hours and operating in accordance with local noise ordinances, etc.

On another front, on October 23 the Lansing Township Board approved RACER’s plan for new fencing along Michigan Avenue in the township.  Under the approved plan, a new six-foot security fence will be constructed with a 15 foot setback from the sidewalk.  RACER will be working with contractors and the township on that 15 foot setback with the goal of improving the appearance of the site to anyone passing by.

RACER is about half-way through the environmental assessment of the three sites and is on target to submit its remediation plan around April 1, 2013 with final approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality expected in early September 2013.  At the time the plan is submitted to the MDEQ, RACER will hold another neighborhood meeting to provide an update on the status of the properties.

As was explained, the RACER Trust some $18 million to bring the three sites up to an industrial standard for redevelopment, which will add considerable value to the area.  That money can be used only for environmental cleanup at those sites and cannot or will not be siphoned-off for work on any other RACER owned properties.

RACER is looking into the ongoing concern in Lansing – and at other RACER sites – about routine maintenance. It’s no surprise that maintaining 89 properties in 14 states can be time-consuming and expensive.  That is why RACER is evaluating how best to maintain properties in a way that is both affordable and achievable, which is our ultimate goal.

RACER is also continuing to work with the Automotive Industry and Property Task Force, a Lansing-based group that includes community and business leaders interested in the future economic development of the Lansing and Lansing Township properties.

Timelines and studies are in the works but it’s important to emphasize that RACER has a legal obligation to sell the former GM properties at prices that approximate fair market value and that take into consideration the jobs and other economic benefits new projects can bring to auto communities hurt by the GM bankruptcy.

The agreement establishing the Trust described the criteria that the Trust, at a minimum, must consider when selling properties. These criteria include:

•Whether the purchase price is sufficient;

•The potential for job creation in the affected community and the state;

•Increases in tax revenue or other benefits, like the reduction of blight, to the community, state or Tribe;

•Avoiding an unanticipated increase in costs for the environmental cleanup;

•The views of the local communities, the Tribe or the state; and,

•The reputation and credibility of the prospective purchaser.

With those criteria in mind, we are continuing to work with the city of Lansing, the Charter Township of Lansing, and the Lansing Area Economic Partnership (LEAP) to position the RACER properties for redevelopment that will be in the best interests of the community.

We look forward to meeting again in the Spring and until then, if you have questions or concerns please let us know.  To learn more about RACER Trust, including our contact information please visit: www.racertrust.org