West Bloomfield Township-based Lormax Stern Development Co. plans to buy a former General Motors plant on the west side of the state with the hopes of finding a manufacturing user for the property.
The 2 million-square-foot plant in Wyoming will be demolished, leaving an open 90-acre site to be developed, said Chris Brochert, a partner with Lormax Stern. The deal marks the first large-scale industrial project for Lormax Stern, which has primarily been a retail developer.
“This is a new direction for our company,” Brochert said. “We’re looking to diversify our asset base, not just in industrial, but in mixed-use developments that are financially viable.”
The property was sold by Motors Liquidation, the holding company for former GM land and facilities. Brochert would not disclose the sale price.
Lormax Stern plans to close on the purchase April 1, and has entered a joint venture with the city of Wyoming. At closing, Brochert said, the land will be transferred to the Wyoming Economic Development Authority, an entity similar to a land bank. Lormax Stern will have a five-year exclusive development agreement to find a user for the site, build the facility and then either lease or sell the land.
Once a tenant or buyer is identified, the land will be taken out of the land bank and given back to Lormax Stern, Brochert said. If a user isn’t found in five years, the land will be owned by Wyoming permanently. Also, if the user is not something Wyoming approves of, the land remains in the land bank.
“This is a very unique public private partnership,” he said.
The property will be redeveloped into one or two sites, both industrial in use as a way to bring some of the manufacturing jobs back to Wyoming, he said.
With no tenants lined up for the property, Brochert said a marketing campaign will be launched to find a user. In that effort, Lormax Stern will be aided by The Right Place Inc., a Grand Rapids-based economic development organization which focuses on the west side of Michigan.
Wind turbine or solar power-oriented manufacturing will be targeted, along with food processing companies, Brochert said. The proximity to highways, rail lines and industrial-level power and water lines will make it appealing to manufacturers.
Built in 1936, the Wyoming plant was central to the automaker’s sheet metal stamping operations and home to tool and die makers. The sprawling site, which is bounded by U.S. 131, Buchanan Street , 36th Street and 40th Street , employed more than 3,000 at the height of its operations.
“We are extremely pleased to announce such a tremendous partnership between the City and Lormax Stern,” said Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll in a press release. “Since GM announced its intent to close the stamping plant two years ago, we have been working diligently to ensure a useful second life for this highly visible and highly desirable property, which is one of the largest tracts of open industrial land in West Michigan.”
Brochert said the deal is a new direction for Lormax Stern as it looks to diversify its holdings from being strictly retail.
“We expect to do other deals like this around the country,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of difference between developing a major manufacturing facility and a shopping center. Once a tenant is in place, all the other components are the same.”