MEDC Approves $116M for Development Projects Across Michigan

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. in Lansing approved three major development projects in Flint, Lansing, and Parma representing a total capital investment of $116.5 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
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The Ovation Music and Arts Center in Lansing is expected to be completed by 2025. // Courtesy of the MEDC
The Ovation Music and Arts Center in Lansing is expected to be completed by 2025. // Courtesy of the MEDC

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. in Lansing approved three major development projects in Flint, Lansing, and Parma representing a total capital investment of $116.5 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

In Flint, funds will be used for the redevelopment of the Buick City site to provide in-demand industrial space. When fully completed, the project is expected to result in a 3.5 million-square-foot light industrial space and will represent the largest investment in north Flint in decades.

Altogether, this project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $300 million and consist of up to 3.5 million square feet of state-of-the-art distribution space and could eventually house between 2,000 to 3,000 jobs on the site.

“The redevelopment of Buick City is an important win for the Flint community and our state, and signals our commitment to both growing our inventory of industrial sites and creating economic opportunity for our friends and neighbors,” says Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president and chair of the MSF Board.

“We appreciate the hard work of Team Michigan, including our partners in the legislature, the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration, and our local partners to return the Buick City site to productive use and put businesses and residents in Genesee County on a stronger path for future economic growth. Significant work remains, yet this is an important celebratory next chapter.”

The Flint Commerce Center, an entity of Ashley Capital, plans to redevelop the former Buick City Site in the city of Flint to prepare the site for a 275,000-square-foot industrial building that is expected to lead to further development at the site.

Messer says the proposed project will act as a catalyst to attract jobs to the area by providing new speculative development as well as shovel-ready sites for future potential regional opportunities. In addition to cleaning up one of the largest and most significantly blighted and contaminated industrial sites in the state, the activation of the industrial space is critical in addressing the shortage of space in the city of Flint and the state.

Market analysis has repeatedly shown that large, move-in-ready sites are in demand. Supporting this type of property remains vital to retaining existing companies in the state as they grow and offers opportunities to attract new companies here to Michigan.

The cost of the site preparation, including removal of underground utilities and concrete slabs and foundations, is estimated to be $17 million. Flint Commerce Center today received Michigan Strategic Fund approval of an $8.5 million MSF performance-based loan with the ability to be forgiven if construction milestones are met.

In addition to MSF support, $3.25 million in ARPA funds from Genesee County and $3.25 million in ARPA funds from the city of Flint will be reimbursed to the project for work as it is completed. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has also agreed to grant $2 million to the city to support the project.

“This project is a perfect example of the good things that can happen when the public, private and charitable sectors work together,” says Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation.

“I can’t wait to see the site cleaned up, steel rising and, ultimately, residents of Flint and Genesee County getting back to work at Buick City,” White says. “The Mott Foundation is pleased to play a small role in making that happen.”

Established in 1984, Ashley Capital has a successful track record of utilizing available sites or remedying blighted properties to breathe life back into these sites, often before tenants are secured to fill them.

“Ashley Capital is very excited about our plans to build a state-of-the-art industrial park on the former Buick City site. This development will be an economic driver for the area by increasing the economic base and providing employment opportunities,” says Susan Harvey, senior vice president at Ashley Capital.

The city of Lansing is constructing the Ovation Music and Arts Center on an acre of vacant, underutilized property on the corner of South Washington Avenue and Lenawee Street in the heart of downtown Lansing.

When completed, the arts center’s main stage will have a capacity of approximately 2,000 patrons. The two-story facility will serve as the home of the Lansing Public Media Center and house retail and office space for arts organizations and creative businesses. In addition, the venue will include a rooftop bar and restaurant space.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of approximately $17.5 million and create nearly 160 full-time equivalent jobs, supported by a $5 million MSF performance-based grant. The arts center will be adjacent to the site of the former Lake Trust Credit Union, now being transformed into multifamily housing and office space.

The Ovation Music and Arts Center is expected to open by 2025. The project is also being supported by $2.75 million in state and federal allocations, $8.5 million in city bonds issued against local fee revenue, and private donor funding.

“The Ovation will be a monumental game changer for downtown Lansing,” says Andy Schor, mayor of Lansing. “This venue will help transform and energize the southern part of our downtown, bringing people from all over the region to live performances, events, and concerts throughout the year.”

Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc., a joint venture between Toyota Industries Corp. and DENSO in Southfield which has nearly 500 employees at its facility in the village of Parma, plans to expand that facility, a project that will generate a total capital investment of $82 million and keep 241 jobs in the state.

The company is a high-volume precision aluminum CNC machining and electric air conditioning compressor assembly manufacturer that supplies multiple Toyota models. The company is the largest employer in Jackson County.

MACI is phasing out its combustible products as it begins production of new products that support the industry’s transition to electric vehicles. The company plans to expand at its existing facility in Parma, a project that will generate a total capital investment of $82 million and keep 241 jobs in the state. Michigan was chosen for the project over a competing site in another state.

The Michigan Strategic Fund Wednesday approved a five-year, 100 percent State Essential Services Assessment negotiated assessment rate for the company, which is valued at $984,000 for the company’s $82 million investment. The company also anticipates receiving a property tax abatement in support of the project.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership has been awarded a $2 million MSF performance-based grant for pedestrian infrastructure upgrades in downtown Detroit.

The upgrades include five pedestrian bridges over high-traffic streets, fence posts to cordon specific areas, and safety barricades to protect pedestrians from traffic and events.

“The Downtown Detroit Partnership is proud to receive funding from the Michigan Strategic Fund to support pedestrian infrastructure enhancements,” says Eric B. Larson, CEO of the DDP. “This is an opportunity to improve existing infrastructure and test new interventions as we improve access, connectivity, and mobility that can be leveraged for a variety of events including the Detroit Grand Prix’s move downtown.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved a Request for Proposals for the Mega-Site Strategic Plan. The RFP is seeking proposals from national entities that are currently engaged in and have prior experience with national site attraction and/or real estate and site development.

Preference will be placed on entities that have direct experience in mega-site development for public entities for economic development purposes.

Site availability and readiness is a key deciding factor, along with talent and workforce, for companies when considering Michigan for investment in future growth and expansion opportunities.

Messer says as the MEDC works to win projects across multiple industries in both rural and urban areas, the strategic site readiness program will ensure an increased inventory of sites, particularly large sites, to support projects today and in the coming years.

Objectives of the plan include:

  • Making recommendations on the number, size, location, and site requirements for mega-sites to position Michigan to be competitive in strategic industries.
  • Evaluating the readiness and competitiveness of existing mega-sites including an assessment of the improvements and costs required to bring each site to a marketable condition.
  • Identifying additional recommended regional locations for mega-sites.
  • Making recommendations on regional locations for strategic sites in competitive strategic industries.
  • Making recommendations for implementing the strategic plan.

“Today’s MSF actions underscore our commitment to positioning Michigan for large-scale investments and to supporting future development in Flint and across the state that will bring long-term economic opportunity to all Michiganders,” Messer says.

“We are grateful to the governor, legislators, and local partners for their continued support of our efforts. These projects reflect our commitment to seizing opportunities that make Michigan an even better place for each of our 10 million-plus friends and neighbors to live, work, visit, play, and create futures.”

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