City sells once-polluted industrial site; buyer eyes auto-parts factory

DEARBORN — After years of sitting vacant and requiring extensive environmental restoration work, a recently remediated property is seeing new life as the city of Dearborn finalizes a deal that is expected to give way to a proposed automotive-supplier factory, bringing in an estimated 400 jobs to the city.

The city, which owns the property at 3901 Wyoming Ave., will sell the land to Soave Real Estate Group, Inc. and parent company Soave Enterprises. The City Council approved the sale at its Dec. 4 meeting.
The city bought the property from the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office through the tax foreclosure process in 2003.

Soave has proposed and outlined the construction of a Tier 1 or 2 auto supplier plant that would produce parts for the Ford F-150 pick-up trucks, which are assembled at the nearby Ford Rouge Complex.

Soave has ownership interest of properties adjacent to 3901 Wyoming Avenue to the north and south. Soave plans to combine the three sites to create a 21-acre site that could house a 220,000- to 330,000-square-foot factory complex, as proposed in the purchase agreement.

If all goes accordingly, a new plant could be operating in Dearborn by 2020.

“This project reflects the success of remediating contaminated, underutilized properties so they can be used for appropriate, productive purposes,” said Barry Murray, director of the Economic and Community Development Department. “This development will generate tax dollars, provide jobs and support Dearborn’s goal of promoting advanced manufacturing for the long-term future.”

The property at 3901 Wyoming Ave. is situated in a highly industrial district on the city’s east side near the Detroit border, less than a mile from the Ford Rouge Complex.
The site once housed the former Dearborn Refining Co., which blended lubricating and metal-working products. After an investigation into the site, however, it was determined the factory had been significantly mismanaged, allowing large quantities of contamination to be released into the ground.
After purchasing the property in 2003, the city set about a long process to clean the site for redevelopment.
In total, the cleanup cost $8 million, but was not funded by the city. The city leveraged community, state and federal partnerships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Downriver Community Conference Brownfield Consortium.

Today, the vacant site has a field of monitoring wells that will remain in place for years to come. It has been pumped, treated, capped with gravel, a flexible membrane liner and clean fill and is completely ready for redevelopment.

The USEPA and MDEQ are required to sign off on the proposed reuse.

The city had received multiple offers from private trucking firms to use the site to store semi-trailer trucks and trailers. However, the city aimed to stay in the line with its Master Plan to advance manufacturing/logistics and supply chain development in that district, creating a tax-base boost and creating jobs for residents.

Tags: