WYOMING — Franklin Partners LLC purchased the sprawling former General Motors stamping plant in Wyoming known as Site 36 late last month for $5.25 million and plans a new industrial development on the property for multiple manufacturers.
Grand Rapids- and Oak Brook, Ill.-based Franklin Partners, doing business as Franklin Site 36 LLC, bought the 74-acre site from the city of Wyoming for $70,000 per acre, company officials said. Property records indicate a sale price of $5.25 million that closed on Feb. 25.
The commercial development and property management firm for years has been the lead marketer for the property at 300 36th St. SW.
Franklin Partners plans to build onsite manufacturing plants ranging in size from 150,000 to 1 million square feet.
“We have partnered with the city of Wyoming for about the last three or four years to bring manufacturers to the site, and together with the city we decided market conditions are right and it makes sense for them to sell the site,” Franklin Partners co-founder and Partner Don Shoemaker told MiBiz. “When you look at the vacancy of industrial space, (it) has been at or under 2 percent, and this is an improved site you can actually build on now — there aren’t many of those.”
The city of Wyoming acquired the property in 2011 and demolished the former GM plant. Onsite utilities, access to rail and close proximity to U.S. 131 has kept the site attractive, while the region’s thriving industrial real estate sector presented a new opportunity.
Meanwhile, the region’s thriving industrial real estate sector presented a new opportunity.
Randy Thelen, president and CEO of economic development organization The Right Place Inc., commended the city for maintaining the property for more than a decade and called it a “pretty extraordinary” opportunity for Franklin Partners.
“It’s the biggest step forward on that site since the day it was first developed by GM,” Thelen said. “We’re sitting on a 1.7-percent vacancy rate for industrial space, and there are a select few industrial park sites ready to go. There’s an extreme shortage at a time when people are buying more things and the manufacturing base is cranking. There’s a high demand for industrial space, now we’re seeing a developer step forward.”
Thelen said the site could likely accommodate three to five manufacturing users, “which frankly is a great way to diversify the job base rather than one massive user.”
As well, Shoemaker noted the existing infrastructure is suitable particularly for manufacturers.
“What the city has wanted on the site from the start is to bring back manufacturing jobs as opposed to having warehouses that will sit on the property,” Shoemaker said. “This site is unique because it has rail. We’re targeting good manufacturing companies that need the infrastructure that’s there.”
Franklin Partners is in discussions with three or four potential companies that are a mix of local firms looking to expand and a couple that are based outside of the state, Shoemaker said. Franklin Partners expects to break ground and start construction this summer, and expects to announce the first user soon, Shoemaker said.
The sale of the site “has been a long time coming,” Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt said in an announcement.
“We have long recognized what a jewel this property is — and what tremendous potential it has to attract manufacturers looking for a place to expand or consolidate operations,” Holt said. “Don Shoemaker has an excellent track record in our community. We look forward to working with him and bringing Site 36 back to life.”
The site is listed by Duke Suwyn and Steve Marcusse of Advantage Commercial Real Estate.
— Managing Editor Andy Balaskovitz contributed reporting to this story