With prospective buyers of the former Vassar foundry waiting in the wings, Tuscola County Economic Development Corp. and city officials plan to ask the county board of commissioners for help in furthering efforts to redevelop the site.
Steve Erickson, executive director, Tuscola County Economic Development Corp., said Tuesday that he and Brian Chapman, city manager, Vassar, plan to appear before the Tuscola County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting Thursday (Jan. 26).
The hope, he said, is to get some sort of help in the job of determining the extent of contamination at the site, which will then be shared with those interested in purchasing the property. Such information will be useful in providing a more accurate financial picture of what it will cost to redevelop the site.
“We have two potential buyers, both of them are waiting for some answers,” Erickson said.
Erickson didn’t say who the buyers are, what kind of industry they are in, or even what kind of assistance specifically will be sought from the county board.
However, he did say what is needed to move along redevelopment of the 71-acre site at 700 E. Huron Ave. in Vassar.
“At this point, we need to know exactly what the contamination levels are,” Erickson said. “So we’re going to make a proposal to the county commissioners to help take care of that, and we’ll see where they take it from here.”
“Once we know exactly where we are with the contamination, then we can make a proposal to the prospective buyer for what exactly needs to be done, and due-care measures that may continue to be on the property for the rest of the property’s life,” Erickson addded.
The Metavation L.L.C. foundry — known in decades past as the Eaton Manufacturing foundry — shut down in 2013. Metavation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy that year, abandoning the 71-acre foundry parcel which has a for-sale sign in front of it advising buyers to contact Troy-based real estate agency L. Mason Capitani Inc. The property is listed for $750,000.
Those familiar with the property likely recognize the building east of downtown Vassar along East Huron Avenue, along with the water tower with the big “G” on it from when it was owned by Milwaukee-based Grede Foundries Inc. from 1986 until it was sold in 2009.
However, there are another 44 acres beyond the 257,000 square feet of factory space that also includes about 10,000 square feet for offices. A railroad spur separates the land with the buildings and the vacant acreage.
By the time it closed in 2013, the business was down to about 100 employees. There were times in the past, however, when upwards of 500 worked at the site.
The site has been making headlines lately.
In December, The Advertiser reported that a representative from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is working with city and county officials to help facilitate redevelopment of the site.
In December, Chapman said he views the foundry as being at a kind of crossroads.
“It’s a hazard to the community, but at the same time it’s an opportunity to really get a group of people around this property and try to see it through to try to be a new industry,” Chapman said.
Chapman said the site presents numerous opportunities.
“It could be another manufacturing plant, we could level the whole thing and you could see another industrial park where you have a lot of small manufacturers,” Chapman said. “There was even talk at one point of having it set up for solar power and making it a solar power field.”
On Jan. 7, The Advertiser reported that the Tuscola County treasurer plans to foreclose on — and sell — the entire site as a result of about $120,000 in unpaid taxes.
Pending a court ruling or any other action that could halt the process, the property will be forfeited to the county unless unpaid taxes are paid by March 31.
Patricia Donovan-Gray, treasurer, Tuscola County, said the property would then be owned by the county and sold at a foreclosure sale to the highest bidder, with the starting bid determined by the amount of owed taxes.
County records show about $41,000 in unpaid taxes owed for 2014, about $44,000 for 2015, and at least $39,000 for 2016. The amounts are based on three parcels under ownership of Metavation Vassar.
The next Tuscola County Board of Commissioners meeting is tomorrow at 8 a.m. at the county’s Purdy Building, 125 W. Lincoln St., in Caro. The meeting is open to the public.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at email@example.com