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Three redevelopers have expressed interest in GM site

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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, trust 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 its needs, but the other two might still be contenders, according to Patricia Spitzley, the trust’s assistant redevelopment manager.

Ms. Spitzley declined to comment on the types of businesses that have expressed interest. She said 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 from 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 — trade shows, hosting events, etc.,” Ms. Spitzley said.

The event was nearly six months in the making, Mr. Kelly said. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada and the trust are among the agencies that worked alongside the IDA to coordinate the event.

Ms. Spitzley commended the efforts of local agencies and officials in the search for a developer 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 developer is the GM site’s size.

Ms. Spitzley said the trust is marketing the site to parties who would use portions of it and parties who plan to utilize all of it. She does not believe the site’s size will be an issue in finding a developer.

“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. Trust 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 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, the trust’s cleanup manager.

The size and business of any developer are factors affecting how soon the site could be developed. Ms. Spitzley said there are portions of the site that could be developed immediately.

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