The Herald Bulletin

July 11, 2013

RACER Trust team wants to raise profile of GM sites

Anderson makes grade with redevelopment

By Stuart Hirsch The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — RACER Trust executives on Wednesday gave Anderson city officials high marks for being committed to economic development and working to find new uses for former General Motors Corp. factory sites here.

The RACER Trust was created in March 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the wake of former GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, and is working to redevelop 89 sites in 14 states.

The trust’s purpose is to clean up and ready property and facilities, like the former Delphi I Plant site on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., for reuse and redevelopment.

“You have a community that’s committed to economic development,” said Patricia A. Spitzley, deputy redevelopment manager for the trust. “I’m in 14 states, and the City of Anderson is one of our most aggressive partners.”

Spitzley and Robert Hare, cleanup manager for the former GM properties in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and New Jersey, were in Anderson to help raise awareness about RACER (which stands for Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) trust.

“It’s important to get our message out,” Hare said. “We want to raise the profile of our properties.”

The Delphi I plant is one of them.

The site is comprised of 143 acres of vacant land — the demolition of all buildings was completed in 2009 — surrounded by industrial, commercial and residential areas.

GM began operations at the site in 1929. It was primarily used for the manufacture of light and lamp systems, but operations have included plating, a foundry, iron powder production, iron casting, wastewater treatment, and research and development.

The auto industry in Anderson was at its most productive in the 1970s when more than 27,000 workers were employed at numerous plants around the city. A decade later they began closing, and the final two GM operations, Guide Lamp and Delphi Corp., closed in 2008.

That left the city with 700 acres of closed industrial properties and within that, 8 million square feet of factory and warehouse building space, Mayor Kevin Smith has said.

Last year, a group of Ball State University students organized into an outfit called the Anderson Redevelopment Group proposed transforming the brownfield site into an innovative mixed-use showcase featuring a major aquaphonics facility, food distribution center, multiple research facilities, a small-scale retail center, grocery store, multi-family housing and, eventually, single family housing.

Like many who were in the audience that day, Spitzley said she was impressed by the presentation and its vision. While city and trust officials are anxious to see the property redeveloped, “there is no set schedule,” she said.

“We’re not in a hurry to sell to someone who is not going to bring back jobs to the community,” Spitzley added.

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What is RACER Trust? It was created after the General Motors Corp. bankruptcy in 2009 with a mission of cleaning up and and redeveloping 89 former GM locations in 14 states. When selling properties, the trust must consider these criteria: *Whether the purchase price is sufficient. *The potential for job creation in the affected community and the state. *Increases in tax revenue or other benefits such as reduction of blight. *Avoiding unexpected higher environmental cleanup costs. *The views of the local community. *The reputation and credibility of the prospective buyer. Source: RACER Trust