GM has 'prospective buyer' for idled Warren Transmission plant

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Warren — General Motors Co. expects to sell its closed Warren Transmission plant by the third quarter this year, the Detroit automaker confirmed Thursday. 

Warren Mayor James Fouts mentioned the plant's sale during his State of the City address Thursday at Andiamo Warren restaurant. Fouts said he didn't know the name of the developer but that "it will be a $230 million investment and create hundreds of new jobs."

GM did not specify the potential developer, but in a statement, GM spokesman Dan Flores said that a "prospective buyer is under contract to purchase GM’s former Warren Transmission plant. The prospective buyer is completing their due diligence prior to closing on the property. We anticipate a closing sometime in Q3 2021.  At this time, we have no further comment."

The Warren Transmission plant was one of several locations GM placed on a potential closure list in 2018. Production stopped there in the summer of 2019. The decision to close the plant was finalized after fall 2019 negotiations with the United Auto Workers. 

The Warren plant, developed in 1941, manufactured six-speed transmissions mostly for cars that have been discontinued, including the hybrid Chevrolet Volt. Last year, GM used the facility to manufacture face masks during its COVID-19 pandemic outreach. 

The potential GM development was one of several Fouts mentioned during his speech, which lasted about an hour, before a large group of community stakeholders who sat unmasked and ate lunch without social distancing at the event — a sight unthought of a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic raged. 

But in Warren and elsewhere, there's a sense of hope as normalcy returns with the level of vaccination steady and state restrictions lifted. In Macomb County, which includes Warren, 55% of the population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, according to state data. Across the state, 56% have received at least one dose. 

"I want to see more people get vaccinated," Fouts said. "More people need to know you're safer if you get the vaccine than if you don't."

Fouts revealed a list of developments he's planning for the city, starting with a new $170 million Warren Towne Center that will have to be approved by the city council before it happens. Fouts said the center would be funded by the developer, the city's Downtown Development Authority and grants. Council is supposed to vote on it on July 13.

The center would be located at the old city hall across from the GM Warren Technical Center campus. It would be a mixed-use development that would include 300 "stylish" lofts, according to the mayor. It would also include a high-end hotel. 

"It would be an incredible asset for not only the city of Warren, but for the county of Macomb," County Executive Mark Hackel said in an interview after the event. "That's going to help drive that industry right there along Mound Road."

Fouts also showed ideas for a $2 million skate and bike park and wants to create butterfly habitats throughout the city to become "the butterfly capital of the United States."

Twitter: @bykaleahall