Marketing efforts ongoing for former GM Powertrain site in Massena

Jun. 4—MASSENA — While remediation work continues at the former General Motors Powertrain site in Massena, marketing efforts are ongoing, according to the deputy redevelopment manager for the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust.

RACER Trust assumed ownership of the property through a 2011 bankruptcy settlement and is performing the cleanup under the oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is also actively marketing the property, Patricia A. Spitzley said.

"The trust was formed at the end of the General Motors bankruptcy. What happened was when General Motors went bankrupt, they put all their assets into the bankruptcy court as the process of bankruptcy is and they then received back the assets that they wanted to receive back. But, they left a significant footprint in the bankruptcy court and one of them is the General Motors facility that we own here in Massena," Ms. Spitzley told the Massena Town Board.

"Our mission is to clean them up and then reposition them for redevelopment and job creation and economic development. We clean them up to industrial standards," she said. "On the redevelopment side, our goal is to reposition that property so that it brings jobs and economic development into the community."

Ms. Spitzley said RACER is guided by six criteria when evaluating offers for property. Among them is the purchase price.

"One of the things that is important to us ... is that we look for fair market value when we are selling a piece of property. Our trustee says that we're a trust. We're not a charitable trust, and so it is important for us and we have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the value and get the maximum out of our property," she said.

She said they also look at job creation.

"We look at the reputation of the buyer who's interested in the property. We do extensive background checks. We find out that people have had tickets in Florida for fishing license violations. That's how deep we go because it is important to us to make sure that whoever is purchasing the property is reputable and they're going to do what they say they're going to do," Ms. Spitzley said.

The criteria also includes looking at the needs and wishes of the community.

"That's where you guys come in," she told the town board. "We look to you and we consult with you on what's your economic development vision for not only your community, but what would you like to see at the site. We take that input and we put together marketing materials and we market the product. We go to a number of different places. We market very heavily in Canada where we go to a lot of different opportunities to market the property."

In addition, she said RACER looks for additional benefits the end user will bring to the community, such as reduction of blight, increased economic development or an increased tax base.

"We also look at making sure that person, that entity or whoever purchased the property will not interfere with our ultimate responsibility of remediation and cleanup of the property," Ms. Spitzley said. "I was looking at it as like making soup. We throw all that stuff in to make the soup, which is the best deal possible for the community of Massena. As our trustee says, we only get this one opportunity on the redevelopment side. Once we sign on the dotted line, from a redevelopment standpoint our options are limited. We have a number of people, as my boss would say, who are schemers, dreamers and real deals, and we are obligated to evaluate all of them."