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Sunday, 11 December 2016 15:57

Franklin Partners to lead development at former GM Stamping Plant known as Site 36

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Developer Franklin Partners LLC will now help to market the former General Motors Stamping Plant known as Site 36 Industrial Park in Wyoming. The site could include multiple buildings totaling upwards of 1 million square feet. Developer Franklin Partners LLC will now help to market the former General Motors Stamping Plant known as Site 36 Industrial Park in Wyoming. The site could include multiple buildings totaling upwards of 1 million square feet. Courtesy Rendering

WYOMING — Stakeholders looking to redevelop one of West Michigan’s most storied industrial sites and attract high-quality manufacturing jobs have brought on a new partner. 

Franklin Partners LLC, the Grand Rapids- and Naperville, Ill.-based commercial development and property management firm, will take over as lead marketer and development partner for the Site 36 Industrial Park in Wyoming, principal Don Shoemaker told MiBiz.

With a track record for taking aging or vacant facilities around the Grand Rapids region and returning them to use, the company will now turn its efforts to the vacant 92-acre industrial site off 36th Street SW that was formerly home to a General Motors stamping plant, Shoemaker said.

“It’s been a site that people couldn’t visualize how it was going to work. You could go on Google and see a big gray site,” Shoemaker said. “It needs a vision. Where utilities will go, what’s it going to look like? You need a developer.”

Shoemaker remains open to a variety of options for the site, including selling a building to an industrial client or leasing a facility to them. It all depends on the needs of future tenants, he said. 

All told, sources said they envision total investment at the site reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Franklin Partners joins the existing group of stakeholders — namely, the city of Wyoming and The Right Place Inc., the Grand Rapids-based regional economic development group — who have worked to market the property for about five years. 

“A potential user needs to be able to visualize (the site) and that’s something we haven’t had in the past,” said Therese Thill, vice president of business development at The Right Place. 

Bloomfield Hills-based development firm Lormax Stern LLC previously served as the development partner at Site 36. 

Duke Suwyn and Steve Marcusse, executives in the Grand Rapids office of commercial brokerage Colliers International Group Inc., also will help show the property to various industrial tenants. 

“Ultimately, it’s our job to find the right user for the site,” said Marcusse, a partner and industrial adviser for the firm. “Franklin Partners is certainly the best developer for this. It’s extremely daunting to look at an 80-acre site. Franklin Partners will handle the infrastructure.” 

The stakeholders now have a marketing plan in place that includes possible site plans and renderings. Depending on the needs of the anticipated users, the Site 36 Industrial Park could house between two and six buildings, totaling about 1 million square feet of industrial real estate, according to the renderings. 

Both brokers have started early negotiations with possible users, but Suwyn and Marcusse declined to identify them. 

Despite the addition of Franklin Partners and brokers from Colliers International, the end goal for the property remains the same: to bring one or more high-quality manufacturing users and maximize the site, which includes direct highway and rail access, as well as a plentiful supply of power. 

“We want jobs that pay a decent wage,” said Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt. 

The details of the new partnership emerged as a third quarter market report from Colliers International cited high occupancy rates for industrial property in the West Michigan region. Of the 108 million square feet of space, only about 5.6 percent sits vacant, according to the report.

Ultimately, Holt and other sources said they could envision a variety of industrial sectors, ranging from automotive to medical device to food processing, being interested in Site 36. Holt said he’d also consider a data center user, similar to the proposal from Las Vegas-based Switch Ltd. at the former Steelcase Pyramid in Gaines Township. 

Given the openness to various options and the favorable economic conditions, Shoemaker at Franklin Partners said he’s optimistic an announcement regarding a user could take place in 2017. 

“I think it will be a handful of larger users,” Shoemaker said. “I want good manufacturing jobs and it’s got power, rail and everything else you need. It’s still a good economy for building and there’s no supply.”  

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