Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban says the city east of Indianapolis has agreed to sell a vacant Visteon auto parts plant for approximately $4 million to a buyer specializing in returning such sites to the tax rolls.
Urban briefed the City Council and the Board of Public Works Tuesday about "a buyer that wants to put jobs" in the factory that auto parts maker Visteon closed in 2007 and sold to the city two years later.
Urban said a Carbon Motors Corp. police car plant still proposed for the site would fill about a third of the space. When Carbon lost out on a $310 million federal loan in March, it threw its Connersville prospects into doubt, but Urban says Carbon is lining up new capital. Carbon Motors announced in 2009 that it would hire 1,500 workers to build high-tech police cars in the plant, which the city bought from Visteon.
The Connersville News-Examiner reported that Urban said the sale should close by Dec. 20. Urban said in a telephone interview that he can't reveal the name of the buyer until the deal closes. But he said the deal means that the city about 50 miles east of Indianapolis will recover most of the more than $4 million in environmental cleanup costs it has spent.
After losing out on the federal funding, Carbon added a venture capitalist to its board of directors to help raise the millions of dollars needed to get the project off the ground.
"They're out raising capital. Things are going right down the road like they're supposed to," Urban said.
Carbon Motors' Chairman and CEO William Santana Li said Wednesday that the company is trying to get private funding for the project and still hopes to open a plant in Connersville.
"This doesn't change anything for Carbon Motors. All this means is that we may or may not have a new landlord," he said.
Urban said the new owner of the plant would work to fill the space Carbon doesn't need.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is working with the city and the proposed new buyer while still working on a deal between the city and Carbon Motors, spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock said.