After years of sitting as eyesores, the empty lots left by General Motors in Lansing might have a bright future. Local business and community leaders along with federal authorities met Wednesday to discuss the properties and now Lansing is one step closer in a long process to rehire and rebuild.
"This is about viewing these former auto sites as assets as opposed to troubled properties," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. "We have global and local developers and entrepreneurs looking at these cites."
"We are not just dealing with the old General Motor sites," said John Daher, the Lansing Township Supervisor. "We are dealing with the entire west Saginaw Corridor."
The city wants to change the weeds into productive land and jobs. There are three sites in the Lansing area that need to be rebuilt. The current owner of the properties, the RACER Trust, is marketing them locally and globally to find developers. The sites in the past were used for manufacturing and the Trust hopes to find future manufacturers to buy the cites.
Lansing has $18 million from the Federal Government to clean up the properties from any environmental threats, that way the new buyer won't be liable for any environmental damage previously made.
"We have partners at the EPA," said Bernero. "This is not the old EPA where their pointing fingers and regulating and being obstacles to progress. We have the deputy director of the epa right here in lansing to facilitate the redevelopment of these brownfield sites." 13
For now there's no clear answer exactly what will happen to the properties, but the meeting is a step in the right direction for a brighter future.
It's very important that Washington, the federal agencies in Washington are not a faceless bureaucracy to us. We have specific individuals. We have contacts. We know people in Washington and it's important we have these relationship so that when we go for grants when we go for assistance we know exactly who to go to in these departments and they know Lansing," said Bernero. "We are on the map in Washington, we are on the agenda and we are going to get the help the attention and the tools that we need to develop these sites. That's what's exciting."
Another purpose for the meeting was to develop and strengthen partnerships between the leaders. Mayor Bernero expects a lot will happen with the properties in the next 18 months.