Pontiac celebrates as firm breaks ground on new HQ
"There's a ton of energy" in Pontiac, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said Monday, citing investment and building announcements. "A lot of people are giving another look at Pontiac." Robin Buckson, The Detroit News
A 109-year-old construction management firm held a ceremonial groundbreaking in Pontiac on Monday, the first from-the-ground-up project in years, city leaders said.
George W. Auch Co.’s 20,000-square-foot facility symbolizes a resurgence for Pontiac, said Mayor Deirdre Waterman. The $4.9 million development is at University Drive and Woodward, a site at the east entrance of the city that has been vacant for decades.
“It’s a significant project because it’s one of our anchor, longstanding businesses that has decided, with the resurgence of Pontiac, to keep their headquarters right here in Pontiac,” she said. “So it’s a great win for us as the city has become revitalized and attractive to businesses.”
The groundbreaking on the project comes two weeks after Pontiac emerged from the state’s financial oversight.
“The city itself, the management of the city — the financial standing of the city, its ability to deliver services — has been steadily improving over time and you can see that with the recent end to direct state involvement,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley following the groundbreaking.
“While the leadership here has had a central leadership role in that, you can tell, though, there has been a lot of teamwork — that economic development and the partnerships with the county, and with the state, the foundations, with the private sector ...”
Pontiac was under a financial emergency manager from March 2009 to August 2013 and later transitioned to a Pontiac Receivership Transition Advisory Board. The state said Aug. 1 that the receivership was dissolved, giving city leadership full control of operations and finances.
The site formerly was used by General Motors as an employee development center, prototype vehicle engineering and construction location. It was initially developed as an auto dealership in the 1950s. The site was sold through the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust established in 2011 to sell and clean up former GM properties.
“Without the RACER trust the revitalization of Pontiac may have been a different story,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
The building will be 10 percent to 15 percent larger than company’s current offices on South Paddock, said Jim Munchiando, George W. Auch Co. vice president. Construction is expected to be completed in May.
The company plans to keep 40-50 engineering, construction management and administration positions in the city. Munchiando said the company will keep a portion of its current property and sell the rest to Heat Treating Services of Pontiac.
Waterman said the facility could be a sign for others to do business in Pontiac. Other recent announcements include United Shore Financial Services LLC relocating from Troy to Pontiac and Williams International Co. LLC, an aerospace defense contractor, relocating from Commerce Township.
“In keeping with current trends, we are diversifying our economy and bringing in a lot of different industry areas to fill out our development in Pontiac,” Waterman said.