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New party shows interest in developing GM site

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MASSENA - Economic development officials announced this week a new party has expressed interest in redeveloping the former General Motors Powertrain site.

Patricia Spitzley, assistant redevelopment manager for Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, described the interested party as a foreign paper manufacturer. Ms. Spitzley declined to provide further details on the company, as it’s not the trust’s policy to disclose information on an interested party until a deal has been finalized.

The new party joins two others that have expressed interest in redeveloping the more than 200-acre site. In December, RACER officials reported they were following up on three leads they’d discovered at a business luncheon in October. That event included nearly 40 owners or representatives from Ottawa and Montreal businesses.

In the ongoing effort to find a redeveloper for the site, Ms. Spitzley and other RACER officials recently attended the Toronto International Auto Show and will be in New Orleans this weekend to meet with potential redevelopers.

Ms. Spitzley commended the efforts of local agencies and officials in the search for a redeveloper 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 redeveloper is the large size of the GM site. It’s the largest of the approximately 60 sites in the RACER trust, according to Gary S. Bowitch, an environmental attorney retained by St. Lawrence County.

Ms. Spitzley said RACER is marketing the site to parties interested in utilizing portions of the site and to parties interested in utilizing all of it. She does not believe the size of the site will be an issue in finding a redeveloper.

“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.

RACER officials are hopeful that once the remaining buildings are removed from the site, which is scheduled for completion in early spring, potential developers may more seriously consider the site. The removal of all structures from the site may make it more convenient for interested parties to create plans for how they would develop the site.

“If any entity expressed interest in the site, we’d work with (Mr. Mullen and Ms. Kelly) to carve out acreage for them,” Ms. Spitzley said. “It’s easier to plan out a site when you don’t have buildings and activities taking place on the site.”

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