GM seeks tax break on possible $419M Warren investment

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. could spend at least $419.4 million to expand its Warren Tech Center and create 2,600 new jobs there, according to the company’s tax abatement application with Warren for the proposed project.

The Detroit automaker is seeking a 12-year tax abatement following six years of construction as it considers “constructing several structures (buildings, additions and parking decks) and the renovation of various buildings at the GM Technical Center to support a more modern, competitive, collaborative campus,” according to the application filed in late February. The company says the proposed project would retain 3,860 jobs.

Last week, The Detroit News reported the possible GM Tech Center expansion — in the hundreds of millions of dollars and the possibility of creating more than 2,000 jobs there over a few years.

The Warren City Council is holding a special meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Warren Community Center auditorium that includes a public hearing on GM’s tax abatement request. The council is likely to vote on the abatement at the meeting. If the tax abatement is approved and GM finalizes its plans, the total investment could be $1 billion, according to a notice signed by Scott C. Stevens, Warren City Council secretary.

“Receiving a tax abatement from the City of Warren would be very important for the project going forward for approval,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores.

GM has not approved moving ahead with the project, he said. Flores said he could not speculate on what would happen if the tax abatement request is turned down.

“We hope for a positive outcome,” he said.

It was not clear Friday the value of the potential tax abatement for GM. Warren officials did not return calls for comment.

GM declined to provide any specifics on job additions or whether jobs would come to Warren from other GM locations.

“At this point in the process, we’re not in a position to publicly discuss any of the specific details related to the potential project,” Flores said. “However, if the project is approved, the investment would be significant and there would be new jobs. The additional jobs would be good-paying, technical salaried General Motors jobs.”

GM says property improvements at the Tech Center could run through the end of 2020. In its application, it lists several potential projects including $180 million for the Design Studio and a new parking deck; $63.7 million for a building not identified and $54 million for a non-identified parking deck; nearly $60 million for renovations at Research and Development buildings; a $39 million addition to the Pre-Production Operations building, where GM tests manufacturing equipment; a $20 million renovation/addition to an Advanced Engineering Center lab and $750,000 renovation to a cafeteria.

“Over the last several months, we have been assessing the long-term viability of the Tech Center and as part of this process we have identified some projects that are of higher priority,” Flores said.

The Tech Center includes more than 60 buildings and sits on 330 acres between 12 and 13 Mile, Van Dyke and Mound roads. The campus is home to about 19,000 employees and contractors and houses engineering, design, product development, research and development, customer service and information technology workers, among others. The site dates to the mid 1950s and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Interior Department and National Park Service and as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In August 2014, the Tech Center was hit by severe flooding, which GM in October pegged at $132 million in damage. Tunnels and basements in the Design Building, among others, flooded. Thousands of workers were displaced for several days with the cleanup.

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Staff Writer Ursula Watson contributed.