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Three redevelopers have expressed interest in GM site


MASSENA – At least three parties have expressed interest in redeveloping the General Motors-Powertrain site, according to officials from the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust.

At the recent North Country Redevelopment Task Force meeting, RACER officials reported three parties have expressed interest in redeveloping the site after a business luncheon in October. The event included nearly 40 owners or representatives from Ottawa and Montreal businesses.

One of the three parties has determined the site does not fit their needs, but the other two might still be contenders, according to Patricia Spitzley, RACER’s assistant redevelopment manager.

Ms. Spitzley declined to comment on the types of businesses that have expressed interest, as it’s not the trust’s policy to disclose information on an interested party until a deal has been finalized.

The 40 who attended the business luncheon in October are associated with small- to medium-sized businesses, mostly between Ottawa and Montreal; two buses picked the businessmen and women up from those cities to take them to Massena early that morning. One prospect came as far away as Toronto to attend, said Patrick J. Kelly, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency.

“We’ll do whatever we have to market the site, (including) trade shows, hosting events, etc.,” Ms. Spitzley said.

The event was nearly six months in the making, Mr. Kelly said. The United States Embassy in Ottawa, the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada and the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust are among those agencies which worked alongside the IDA to coordinate the event, Mr. Kelly said.

Ms. Spitzley commended the efforts of local agencies and officials in the search for a redeveloper for the GM site.

“(Legislator) Tony Arquiett is a great partner, the (Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena) is a great partner, and we’ll keep looking for a redeveloper,” she said.

One factor in the search for a redeveloper is the large size of the GM site. It’s the largest of the approximately 60 sites in the RACER trust, according to Gary S. Bowitch, an environmental attorney retained by St. Lawrence County.

Ms. Spitzley said RACER is marketing the site to both parties who plan to utilize portions of the site and to parties who plan to utilize all of it. She does not believe the size of the site will be an issue in finding a redeveloper.

“It is a big piece of the property, but we have sites that are comparable in other states,” she said.

Another factor in the redevelopment of the GM site is the ongoing remediation work to remove contaminants left by the auto plant. RACER officials announced they’re on schedule to finish digging out a large concrete slab and contaminated soil beneath the former plant by the end of December.

Crews demolished the former automotive plant last year, and have spent much of this year removing the 20-acre, 855,000-square-foot concrete slab that once was underneath the factory and the contaminated soils below it.

The next phase of the remediation involves the removal of between 35,000 and 57,000 tons of contaminated soil along the lagoons between the former GM plant and the St. Lawrence River, according to Brendan Mullen, cleanup manager for RACER, the site’s owner.

The size and business of the redeveloper are factors affecting how soon the site could be redeveloped. Ms. Spitzley said there are portions of the site which could be developed immediately.

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