Flint, MI—Buick City, a nearly 413-acre brownfield left on Flint’s north side in the wake of General Motors’ bankruptcy, will soon see a new building break ground.

Ashley Capital, the New York-based development group under contract for roughly 352 acres of the sprawling site since spring 2022, closed on its first 20 acres on March 30, 2023.

“Part of our interest in closing on this first 20 acres was interest that we’ve been gaining from the market,” said Kevin Hegg, vice president of Ashley Capital. “We want to get going on the first building.”

According to Hegg, the speculative developer’s initial building will be a 330,000-square-foot facility, of which potential tenants have expressed interest in “about a third.” 

Though Hegg said he couldn’t yet share the names of any potential tenants, he noted one seemed “very serious” and that he was confident firming up a first tenant could help lead to others.

“Now that we’re able to talk more broadly about where we’re at with the property and have some certainty as to what we’re building, or what we’re buying and what we’re building, that typically will help generate more real leads and real serious interest,” he said.

Hegg said Ashley Capital anticipates breaking ground on the new facility within 30 to 60 days and completing it by the end of March or April 2024.

For their part, officials from RACER Trust, the organization tasked with the environmental clean up and sale of the former General Motors’ property since 2011, said they were “thrilled” with the initial closing.

“We couldn’t be more pleased for Ashley Capital or for the community,” said Bruce Rasher, the redevelopment manager for RACER Trust. “The sale of the 20-acre parcel was predicated on satisfying the preconditions for closing on the balance of the acreage, so we’ve made real progress toward selling the remainder.”

Prior to the Buick City deal, Ashley Capital had an existing relationship with RACER Trust, having already purchased a Livonia, Mich. site from RACER which now houses an Amazon Distribution Center.

While Rasher expressed confidence in closing on the remaining 332 acres of Buick City under contract with Ashley Capital, he noted that closing will need to happen in two more phases.

The first phase, which comprises approximately 270 more acres, is expected to close this July. But the timing of the final, roughly 60-acre phase is a bit less concrete, Rasher said, as it is “predicated on RACER satisfying certain environmental objectives which, as of this time, are not yet fully defined by environmental regulators.”

Regardless of the site’s sale timeline, Earnest Macklin, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood surrounding Buick City, said he’s looking forward to the area’s coming development.

“I’m so excited,” Macklin said with a smile from outside his home on Edmund Street. 

The retired military veteran told Flint Beat that both the Ashley Capital deal, given its promise of Flint-based jobs, and the recent investment in nearby St. John Memorial Park will be a boon for nearby residents and businesses. 

“I hope to see the neighborhood come back up,” he said, adding that he isn’t bothered by the coming construction. “Construction ain’t gonna last always, and once it’s over, it’ll be beautiful. I’m excited. I’m waiting on them to get started.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....