The city of Anderson is nearing a milestone in its effort to find new uses for former General Motors sites that have been in its possession since 2006.
The last of three factory buildings—GM’s former Plant 16—is under contract to an unidentified Indianapolis company. The pending sale comes just three months after an Anderson-based company, S&S Steel Services Inc., bought GM’s former Plant 20 for $1.5 million.
In addition, the city has 70 acres of vacant land—also a former GM site—under contract with an unidentified company from out of state.
The flurry of activity has Anderson Deputy Mayor Greg Graham feeling buoyant, especially when he compares Anderson to other Midwestern cities that are just now facing the prospect of reinventing themselves after major auto makers pulled out.
“We’re done with that,” Graham said. “That’s in the rearview mirror.”
Anderson was once the largest GM town outside of Flint, Mich. When the automaker pulled the plug on the last factory, it turned over three buildings and 180 acres to the city. Much of the vacant land contained factories that GM razed before turning the property over to the city.
An Anderson company, Hy-Tech Machining, was the first to buy a former GM building from the city. Hy-Tech bought the former Plant 18 at 2900 Scatterfield Road for $425,000 in 2008. The building is something of a local landmark because of its turquoise exterior.
The city has offered low prices on the GM properties as a lure for growing companies.
Economic Development Director Linda Dawson said the buyer of plant 16, which was listed for $350,000, might be able to apply part of the purchase price to upgrades on the building.
“We’re happy to negotiate with interested parties to forgive the price for improvements to the property,” she said.
Dawson said Plant 16, at 2315 Jefferson St., is in “good shape,” but it needs a new roof and windows. There will be other expenses that go along with reactivating it, she said.
The building went under contract in October, said Tom Willey, a partner at Mathewson Willey Realty Advisors, who is listing the GM properties for the Anderson Redevelopment Commission.
An out-of-state company is under contract for the vacant land off Scatterfield Road, Willey said. The triangle-shaped property was listed at $10,000 to $60,000 per acre. It was the site of Plants 7, Plant 3 and Plant 10, all of which GM tore down.
Just one corner of the triangle fronts Scatterfield, but the property is served by rail, and the city will use federal funds to improve road access. Willey described the unidentified buyer as an “outdoor-type industrial company,” and said its operations will likely be shielded from view on Scatterfield.
The sale of the triangle-shaped property will leave the city with about 40 acres that has extensive frontage on Scatterfield—and potential for retail use, Willey said.
Willey hopes to turn over the remaining land on Scatterfield relatively quickly, but he expects it will take several more years to unload smaller parcels of vacant land that are scattered around the city. Some are adjacent to the factory buildings. “Especially in this market, it’s two years, plus,” he said. “It’s hard to borrow on land.”
The GM sites in the city's possession aren't the only ones left standing in Anderson. One major reminder of GM's legacy, which included two divisional headquarters, is the former Guide Corp. plant at 2915 Pendleton Ave. The property is owned by Motors Liquidation Corp, a company formed out of GM’s bankruptcy to dispose of unused assets.
Finding a new use for the old Guide lighting plant could be a long process because Motors Liquidation has only begun to deal with environmental concerns. The federal government is making $3.6 million available for environmental remediation of the site, where pollution likely stems from decades of chrome-plating headlamps, Graham said.
Motors Liquidation, also known as “old GM,” lists 33 properties in Indiana. That includes 29 in Bedford, plus the metal-stamping plant on White River Parkway in Indianapolis, the Guide plant and one each in Muncie and Kokomo.
Willey said Anderson may find buyers for its remaining GM property more quickly because of its aggressive pricing and incentives. “The No. 1 criteria is to get decent-quality manufacturing with a decent amount of jobs. The better the prospect, the more incentives will be available to them.”
S&S Steel Services, for example, plans to add 150 jobs over five years.