Making the Best of Life After Ford

For nearly 60 years, the Ford Motor Co. plant in Hazelwood, Mo., stood as a symbol of the St. Louis areas strength in auto manufacturing. Today, the shuttered plant is a symbol of an effective public-private partnership to transform a dormant property i

Two years after the plant closed in 2006, Ford sold the site to Sacramento, Calif.-based Panattoni Development Co. The city of Hazelwood, meanwhile, took proactive measures to support a redevelopment vision.

City officials negotiated a 25-year Chapter 353 tax-abatement incentive package with Panattoni for the entire site. The program provides tax abatement on the new buildings.

After 16 months of demolition work, the 3.3 million-square-foot structure that once housed a Ford assembly plant and employed nearly 2,800 employees is gone. Whats left is a 160-acre site being prepped for a $250 million development project known as Aviator Business Park.

Working with the city of Hazelwood, Panattoni developed a plan to reuse the sites considerable assets to create a 2.7 million-square-foot mixed-use business park attractive to light manufacturers, data centers, distribution operators, hotels and office users.

The company sought the tax-abatement incentive to keep its costs low, thereby keeping the lease rates for the park competitive, said David Cox, Hazelwoods economic developer. The park has the potential to generate new economic development capable of creating up to 2,500 jobs. It will be a tremendous asset to our already highly skilled, educated workforce in Hazelwood where 23,101 people are employed.

Located at North Lindbergh Boulevard and I-270, one mile north of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, its close proximity to Lambert Airport, I-270, I-70 and I-170 give it enormous logistic advantages.

In an effort to minimize the amount of material sent to landfills, Panattoni is recycling 95% of the original 3.3 million-square-foot auto manufacturing plant, including approximately:

  • 50,000 tons of steel.
  • 7,500 tons of copper and stainless steel.
  • 450,000 tons of concrete and masonry that will be reused for roads and building pads.
Boost to the Economy Could be Substantial

Panattoni is extracting new strategic marketing value from extensive infrastructure that still remains there for new tenants such as:
  • Rail spurs giving access to service provided by Norfolk Southern.
  • A mega power supply is available with the capability of providing more than 26 million volt amps (MVA), or enough to power a small city.
  • Significant gas, water and sanitary services supplied by a 12-inch gas main, a 16-inch water main and an 8-inch sanitary sewer line.
  • Communication, including fiber and telecom service, with fiber available from AT&T and Verizon.
The boost to the local economy in terms of bringing in new businesses, generating additional tax revenue and producing hundreds of good-paying jobs could be substantial for North St. Louis County, as well as the entire St. Louis metropolitan area.

Its possible that the number of jobs created with Aviator Business Park could equal or surpass the ones generated by the old Ford plant, Cox added.

This article was contributed by the city of Hazlewood, Mo.

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