MASSENA — As remediation work continues at the former General Motors Powertrain site in Massena, marketing efforts continue, according to the assistant director of redevelopment at the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust.
RACER Trust took ownership of the property through a bankruptcy settlement in 2011 and is performing the cleanup under the supervision of the US Environmental Protection Agency. He is also actively marketing the property, said Patricia A. Spitzley.
“The trust was formed at the end of the bankruptcy of General Motors. What happened was that when General Motors went bankrupt, they filed all of their assets in bankruptcy court, according to the bankruptcy process, and then they got the assets that they wanted back. But, they left a significant footprint in the bankruptcy court and one of them is the General Motors plant we own here in Massena,” Ms. Spitzley told Massena City Council.
“Our mission is to clean them up and then reposition them for redevelopment, job creation and economic development. We clean them to industry standards,” she said. “On the redevelopment side, our goal is to reposition this property so that it brings jobs and economic development to the community.
Ms Spitzley said RACER is guided by six criteria when evaluating property offers. Among them is the purchase price.
“One of the things that’s important to us… is that we look for fair market value when we sell a property. Our trustee says we are a trust. We are not a charitable trust, and so it is important to us and we have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value and get the most out of our property,” she said.
She said they are also looking at job creation.
“We look at the reputation of the buyer who is interested in the property. We do extensive background checks. We find out that people have been fined in Florida for fishing license violations. That’s how far we go because it’s important for us to make sure the person buying the property is trustworthy and will do what they say they will do,” Ms Spitzley said.
The criteria also include consideration of the needs and wishes of the community.
“That’s where you come in,” she told the city council. “We are counting on you and we are consulting you on your vision of economic development not only for your community, but also on what you would like to see on the site. We take that input and we create marketing materials and we market the product. We go to several different places. We market very heavily in Canada where we are looking for many different opportunities to market the property.
Additionally, she said RACER is looking for additional benefits that the end user will bring to the community, such as reduced burn, increased economic development, or increased tax base.
“We are also seeking to ensure that this person, entity or whoever has purchased the property will not interfere with our ultimate responsibility to remediate and clean the property,” Ms Spitzley said. “I saw it as making soup. We throw it all away to make the soup, which is the best deal possible for the community of Masséna. As our admin says, we only have one opportunity on the redevelopment side. Once we sign on the dotted line, from a redevelopment perspective, our options are limited. We have a number of people, as my boss would say, who are schemers, dreamers, and real bargains, and we’re obligated to assess them all.