Twinsburg -- Though the vending machine supply company Vistar remains the lone business on the 167-acre expanse of the former Chrysler Stamping Plant, hopes are high in 2014 for Cornerstone Business Park as cleanup and plans for development continue.
Tim Elam of Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties, which owns the property along with DiGeronimo Cos. of Independence, said the current environmental cleanup will leave the site ready for new buildings by early summer.
"About a month ago, we started another phase of cleanup and we're doing about $3 million of cleanup in the next four to six months," Elam said. "So, we're taking down what's left of the building, filling the basement and doing one small area of environmental cleanup. So, our plan is by ... June 1 to have the site in much better shape and be able to go vertical on new buildings very quickly as users come around."
Though he declined to name specific companies, Elam said several firms are actively interested in the industrial park at the corner of Chamberlin and East Aurora roads. He said those businesses may be hesitant to sign leases until cleanup of the site is complete this summer. Interested industries include manufacturing, distribution, storage industries and more, Elam noted.
"Right now, I'd say we've got four very active users looking at [the site] and they range from manufacturing to logistics and distribution companies," Elam said.
"There are a couple industries looking at the site," Twinsburg Community Planning and Development Director Larry Finch added. "There's a little hesitation to sign until they see a clean site."
Finch added that as Cornerstone develops and draws commitment from new businesses, the city hopes to replace or exceed the 1,800 jobs lost in the closure of the Chrysler plant in 2009-10.
"We'd love to see 1,800 jobs to replace the number of jobs lost from Chrysler," Finch added.
"Actually, we'd love to see more than that, and there is potential for more than that."
Vistar and its 137,000-square-foot, modern facility currently employ 63 at Cornerstone.
Conservative estimates from city planners in 2011 showed that the property has the potential for nearly 3,200 employees, $128 million in wages, $2.5 million in local income tax revenue and $4.5 million in income tax to the state.
Mayor Katherine Procop said she is glad to see cleanup work on the business park showing progress.
"It's wonderful to see the cleanup is progressing so quickly now," Procop said. "Over the last few weeks, the final chapter of the Twinsburg Stamping Plant has been finally brought to a close and we're looking forward to a new era of progress as the Cornerstone Business Park development really takes hold and we start seeing changes on that site."
Using $5.2 million in state funding from the Ohio Job Ready Sites Program and the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, Scannell and DiGeronimo are breaking up concrete walkways, filling in the basement of the former Chrysler administration building and handling the demolition of the building that fronts Route 82. These efforts will require an additional $14 million to complete after the state funding is utilized, to be funded by Scannel and DiGeronimo.
Finch said the current cleanup phase will leave Cornerstone Business Park with a "clean slate" in coming weeks, as asbestos removal and demolition of the former Chrysler administrative building will leave a bare skyline. However, work on filling in the site's basement and removing concrete flooring from the area will continue until late spring. The $5.2 million in state funding and owner-provided $14 million will, in combination, cover the costs of these efforts.
"As far as the [administrative] building goes, they're removing windows currently, they've removed some of the asbestos-containing materials," Finch said. "They're going to complete the asbestos removal in the next week or so."
Current efforts at the industrial park also include plans to install rail line access to the site, which Finch said would be a selling point for potential new businesses. The rail lines would connect to a Norfolk Southern-owned line just south of the site, according to Finch.
"I think companies like Vistar that are distribution and warehousing firms [and] particularly those that need rail access for heavier things [would appreciate the rail access]," Finch said. "Manufacturers ... need rail [access] for either components for their products or the products themselves."
Procop added that a clean site is more easily marketed to new industries, and that the placement of the Cornerstone Business Park is desirable real estate within the city.
"When the site is cleared and we can see some infrastructure being put in, the property becomes more marketable and more attractive … and you just can't beat that location," Procop said. "I really believe that there's going to be a strong, positive future on that corner."
The 2.2-million-square-foot Chrysler Stamping Plant, which opened in 1957 and made up about 13 percent, or $2.2 million, of Twinsburg's income tax revenue in 2009, employed 3,500 in its heyday of the early 1980s. More than 1,200 workers lost their jobs or were relocated to other Chrysler plants in Detroit or Wisconsin when the local plant shut its doors in July 2010. The plant's closure followed the 2009 auto bailout and a subsequent restructuring of Chrysler Group LLC.