The bricks haven’t begun flying yet at the former General Motors assembly plant, but the new owners already are listing the site for sale as a redevelopment property.
The empty 4.8 million-square-foot facility and its 115-acre site are listed for sale for $7.45 million, according to a listing on Janesville commercial real estate broker Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates’ website. The property is billed as the “General Motors Plant Redevelopment Campus.”
The former plant’s new owner, Commercial Development Company of St. Louis, has enlisted Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates as local boots on the ground to market the site for industrial redevelopment, broker Bill Mears said Thursday.
Mears said Coldwell Banker signed a deal to list the former GM property in mid-February, but he said his firm has been in talks with Commercial Development for several months.
Commercial Development bought the property in December, paying GM $9.6 million in a sale that included the cost of environmental cleanup and demolition. The company has said it plans to tear down all or most of the sprawling plant starting in April.
Commercial Development is a brownfield redevelopment specialist that has cleaned up dozens of defunct factory properties similar to Janesville’s.
Within a year to 18 months, the company hopes to have the site ready to sell redevelopment parcels to businesses or development firms. A spokesman last week told The Gazette that the company was busy hiring heavy equipment operators.
Mears said his firm is listing the GM property as part of Commercial Development’s overall plan to clear and redevelop it. He said the $7.45 million listing is not a signal that Commercial Development intends to sell off the property without readying it for development.
“It’s a property we have listed and we’re going to be selling,” Mears said. “The whole idea was and is that it’s a planned, adaptive reuse of the site. The way that that’s being looked at by the company that now owns it: to demolish just about all—or at least a big chunk—of all the buildings that are there.”
The Gazette could not reach Commercial Development officials for comment Thursday.
Mears said his firm is serving as an “adviser” on two fronts: marketing the property as redevelopment parcels for sale and helping Commercial Development line up a firm to create a concept plan for redevelopment.
The city established an overlay district around the site after GM put the plant up for sale in late 2015.
For Mears’ firm to begin marketing the site for specific redevelopment plans, Commercial Development first needs to submit a concept plan to the city and get it approved under the rules written into the overlay district.
“Right now, things in terms of marketing are sort of on hold. We’ve got to get concept plan together to submit to the city,” Mears said. “That’s an important thing. We don’t really have the concept plan done, so we don’t really know what specific sites we’re going to have available.”
Mears said he thinks a concept plan and his firm’s marketing of the site will roll out alongside the demolition of the plant. He said Coldwell Banker and Commercial Development could begin listing individual sites for redevelopment in a few months.
Mears said the $7.45 million listing, which has been active for a few weeks, already has drawn interest from several potential buyers.
The buyers are interested in the site because of its access to a large rail spur, he said.
“So, meanwhile, we’re working locally with both Union Pacific railroad and Wisconsin Southern on some interested parties we’ve been talking to,” Mears said.
He said the former GM plant has a bigger physical footprint than any other industrial redevelopment site his firm has listed.
“We’ve got some other large parcels listed, but nothing quite that big. It’s an exciting project for us, for sure,” Mears said. “There’s just not a lot of good, solid industrial rail sites, even in the Midwest. And this one is served by two railroads. That’s sort of a whole different ballgame.”