There is no questioning the fact that the recession hit many communities hard; but as we’ve mentioned before, some were hit harder than others. This was definitely the case for Flint which is still trying to recover economically and having a difficult time doing so. It’s not for lack of trying by the people in the community, say many experts; it’s the difficulty of convincing out-of-state businesses to come to Michigan that’s been the tricky part.
When the recession hit, many automakers across the state struggled to keep the doors open and workers in their plants. For manufacturers like General Motors, this meant closing dozens of plants, leaving at least 15 vacant commercial properties behind. The hope was to refurbish the sites for other businesses, but as of late, real estate agents have found them to be a tough sell.
“We have exposed the properties in Flint and Genesee County … nationally and globally,” explains Bruce Rasher, the redevelopment manager for RACER Trust. According to him, the demand in the market simply isn’t there.
But this hasn’t always been the case for former GM sites. A 22,000-square-foot site in Flint Township, which once served as a data center for the company, was eventually bought up by Online Tech, which now uses the former GM servers for backup data storage for such big-name clients as Pet Supplies Plus and Two Men and A Truck.
As some have already stated, it’s a shame that other businesses have not jumped at the chance to reuse what GM has left behind. Many of the assets from plants and corporate-style buildings could be incredible assets to companies looking to expand, or even those just starting out. If the city agreed to rezone the commercial properties, developers could even change the sites into affordable housing if need be. For now, the 15 sites will sit vacant until others see the benefits of repurposing these commercial properties in Flint.
Source: mlive.com, “Old GM properties are a tough sell in Genesee County, but not impossible,” Shaun Byron, March 3, 2013