Lansing Towship seeks loan to clean up brownfield, return jobs to vacant factory site

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Editor’s note: For a timeline detailing the history of the property at 2400 W. St. Joseph St., click here.

By Eric Stiem

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The property in 1972.

Lansing- After being abandoned more than five years ago, a local brownfield property will become a center for business again.

There are two tenants that have been identified,” said Lansing Township senior planner Matt Brinkley, “I would say that they are certainties.”

The new businesses, which Brinkley declined to mention, are expected to bring in 200 jobs, Brinkley said.

Before the tenants can move in, the property must be decontaminated. Triterra, hired by Lansing Township as an environmental consultant, found asbestos and traces of other hazardous material during its initial study of the property, Brinkley said.

Once the Ingham County Board of Commissioners reviews the loan, they will decide whether to accept it. If accepted, Lansing Township will bring in someone to rid the property of asbestos and clean up all necessary hazardous materials, Brinkley said.

The loan may not be used for construction or improving the already-standing building at the site. In Michigan, only cities may use brownfield loans for such things.

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The property today.

“We are limited strictly to response activities, basically environmental contamination,” Brinkley said.

The environmental cleanup will allow the tenants to move in, which will add up to $2.5 million in taxable value to the property, Brinkley said. Lansing Township won’t be able to collect on the property initially, as the revenues will go toward paying off the $550,000 loan.

 

Why it didn’t work out before.

            Opened in 1941 as Howard Sober Inc., the property at 2400 W. St. Joseph St. held businesses that transported GM automobiles throughout the country via carrier trucks for 67 years.

The property, last run by Leaseway, once employed more than 500 people, but had only 58 workers when it went bankrupt in 2008, said Mike Parker, secretary treasurer of Teamsters, the representing union of Leaseway.

Trucks went from hauling six to hauling 11 cars and as the cars got smaller we could load more,” said Mike Heath, a former employee at 2400 W. St. Joseph St.

Heath also said railroads began receiving a lot of the work that truckers would have done during his time working for the company. Increased railroad usage, along with the overall trend of less cars being made was not good for a business centered on moving cars, Parker said.

With Leaseway folding, someone had to take on the work that Leaseway would have done. That company was Jack Cooper Transport, said George Warner, former employee and union representative of Leaseway.

Teamsters helped the employees transfer to Jack Cooper Transport, maintaining the same job they were doing before, just in a different place, Parker said.  This ensured more than 50 people would not be out of a job.

JRN 300 chart

This downward trend of employees may soon see an uptick if township development efforts prove successful. Data: Teamsters Local 518. Graphic: Eric Stiem

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