GM’s old Buick City complex being redeveloped after long vacancy

The former site of Buick City, a long-vacant property in Flint, Mich., that was once the world’s largest auto plant complex, is getting new life.

Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking last week at the 400-acre site, which had nearly 30,000 General Motors workers at its peak in the 1950s. Factories there churned out nearly 16 million vehicles before GM began abandoning it in 1999.

The company redeveloping the site into an industrial park, Ashley Capital, has bought 20 acres of it so far. It expects to acquire 330 more acres this summer from the trust formed to clean up and sell off old GM properties during the automaker’s bankruptcy.

Plans call for a total investment of $300 million in up to 10 buildings, creating as many as 3,000 jobs. Construction of the first building is expected to be completed in 2024.

Though that’s only a fraction of the employment previously supported by the site, the project would fill a major void in the heart of Flint.

Redevelopment of the site has been slowed by extraordinary costs related to cleaning up contamination and removing remnants of the Buick City complex that GM left in place after demolition, such as underground utilities. To offset some of those added expenses, the project has received $3.25 million of Flint’s American Rescue Plan funds, $2 million from the C.S. Mott Foundation and $8.5 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The groundbreaking was held on the same day that GM revealed plans to spend more than $1 billion upgrading two plants elsewhere in Flint for production of next-generation heavy-duty pickup trucks.

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