Warren City Council OKs financing for project at former GM plant

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Warren City Council on Tuesday night approved a brownfield plan for the proposed redevelopment of the former General Motors Transmission Plant site.

The owner, Missouri-based NorthPoint Development, requested $28.6 million in tax increment financing for environmental remediation and demolition at the 117-acre site at 23500 Mound. The company proposes a $180 million investment to create 1.4 million-square feet of new industrial space and 600 jobs, according to the city.

“I’m all for this project,” Council Vice President Gary Watts said during the meeting. “Let’s get a shovel in the ground and get going.”

Council members approved the plan by a 5-2 vote. Council members Angela Rogensues and Eddie Kabacinski voted no. 

The plans for the site have been in the works for at least several months, following news last spring that GM had plans to sell the property to a developer. The project is in a 10-month demolition and remediation phase. 

The request received some pushback from Rogensues, who said she wanted to make sure that local contractors would be included in work at the site. Johnny Sweeney of NorthPoint confirmed during the meeting that a contractor doing demolition work at the site was not local.

“Twenty-eight million dollars, while I realize it’s a ton of work, it’s a huge tax abatement to be given…” Rogensues said. “I want to make sure our folks are getting the first shot at helping to support this project.”

Earlier in his presentation, Sweeney said that the company could require in its leases with future tenant companies that they give Warren residents a two-week advance window to apply for jobs.

“While we can’t necessarily control some of the bids that come in and how that forms, we are willing to force our tenants to give the first look at employment opportunities to citizens of Warren,” he said.

Sweeney said NorthPoint is opening an office in Metro Detroit. The company had one staff member in the area and will relocate others.

“We’re committed to being here in Warren,” he said. “We are a long-term holder of our projects. About 90% we hold in perpetuity. So the things we’re doing are not only in the best interest of today, but they’re in the best interest of the city long term because we’re here to stay.”

Prior to voting no, Kabacinski said he wanted residents to have input on the project.

“This solely cannot be our decision,” he said. “We have to hear from the residents on this item.” 

Council Secretary Mindy Moore noted that the meeting included a public hearing for residents to speak about the project.

“We’re legally obligated to do that,” she said. “That was done. We can’t control who comes forward to offer their opinions.”

Council President Patrick Green mentioned that a site plan approval process took place for the project.

The plant opened in 1941 as a Navy Ordnance facility operated by the Hudson Motor Car Company. GM ended production at the plant in summer 2019 and closed it that fall following negotiations with the United Auto Workers. GM used the facility in 2020 to manufacture face masks for its COVID-19 pandemic outreach.

In a project summary submitted to the city in December 2021, NorthPoint Development, under its affiliate name, NP Mound Road Industrial LLC, said it plans to house multiple tenants on the site and make improvements to parking, green space and storm water management. Jobs at the site will pay at least $15 per hour, according to the summary.

The project is among several NorthPoint Development has underway in Metro Detroit.

In Detroit, construction is underway for the M3 Commerce Center at the former Cadillac Stamping plant on the city’s east side. It will be home to Lear Corp. as it makes seats for GM’s Factory Zero assembly center.

Last month, Detroit officials announced NorthPoint's interest in redeveloping the long vacant American Motors Headquarters on the city's northwest side into two new buildings totaling 728,000 square feet of industrial space suitable for an automotive parts supplier.

In Harper Woods, NorthPoint is expected this year to demolish Eastland Center to redevelop the site for an industrial complex. Earlier Tuesday, Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Strategic Fund board awarded the developer $4.7 million in brownfield tax credits.


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN