Case Study: Livonia West Commerce Center

Aug 15, 2019 | Construction News

In 2014, Ashley Capital purchased the 116-acre industrial brownfield site of the former General Motors Delco Chassis Plant in Livonia from RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust for a planned new industrial distribution center. The city of Livonia is home to one of Michigan’s primary industrial corridors with many automotive manufacturing companies, vendors, and suppliers who operate within the city’s limits and nearby communities.

The General Motors’ Livonia site once housed fourteen heavy manufacturing buildings that totaled 2.1 million square feet. These facilities were constructed and utilized between 1954 and 1998. In 2001, after the plant was shuttered the buildings on the site were demolished and the site sat vacant for 13 years until it was sold by RACER Trust to Ashley Capital. RACER Trust was established in 2011 to manage the remediation, redevelopment, and restoration of former GM properties.

This brownfield site was fraught with many disadvantages due to remnants left behind from its previous use. The demolition of the former structures had left many unknown soil and ground conditions buried below the surface. These remnants included abandoned-in-place building footings and foundations, walls, piping, utilities, and underground storage tanks (UST). Before the construction of Ashley Capital’s new one-million square foot precast industrial distribution center could begin, the brownfield contaminants inherent to the site needed to be addressed. The site conditions were remediated through a combination of crushing and compacting the concrete, and removal and filling the inground pipe and tanks as defined by the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Report. The contaminated soil was dewatered and pumped in frac tanks and removed from the site to a quarantine location. The site’s stormwater is managed through a system of detention basins and Best Management Practices that collect and release the captured water runoff into the local system without coming into contact with the site soils.

In addition to the environmental challenges, Ashley Capital had an aggressive nine-month start to finish construction schedule. The City of Livonia streamlined the permit process to assist in the scheduling process. The team had to complete the new building and extend a 40kV transmission line to power the project’s new on-site DTE electric substation. The streamlined permitting and early commitment by the client allowed the team to begin procuring the needed steel and prefabricated concrete building to keep the project on schedule. The sub-station was brought on-line one month prior to the building’s completion.

Opting to clean-up and utilize this former heavy manufacturing site, Ashley Capital contributed to the environmental and economic health of the community by reinvigorating a largely empty and unproductive site. The project and its program put the previously contaminated site back into productive use and brought benefits through environmental revitalization, job growth opportunities, and providing tax dollars to the local economy.