FLINT, MI — It was 15 years ago today that the last Buick was built in Flint — a LeSabre that rolled off the line at Buick City at 12:37 p.m. June 29, 1999.
Now, a pipe manufacturing company is taking a shot at success on the same turf.
American SpiralWeld Pipe Co. has started construction at the northern-most end of the Buick City site, the biggest post-Buick sign of life at the sprawling property.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but the building will start to arrive next week, said Patrick J. Hook, vice president of operations at American. “Quite a bit of concrete has been poured … and (loaded) trains will be arriving as early as a week to 10 days from now.”
American is planning to ship 36-inch ductile iron pipe here from its plant in Birmingham, Ala., for use in the Karegnongi Water Authority water pipeline and expects to manufacture most 60- and 66-inch spiralweld pipe for the pipeline once the Flint plant opens in December.
Fresh concrete work near a rail line on the property will allow the company to bring on materials by rail, and reload the pipe onto flatbed trucks so it can be shipped to the site of the KWA construction.
The new 180,000-square-foot American manufacturing plant is just a dot on the 400-acre Buick City site, where General Motors once employed more than 27,000 autoworkers.
GM continued to build engines here until 1999 and abandoned the site 10 years later when it passed through bankruptcy.
Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, the trust established by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to sell off unwanted GM assets, has in charge of the site since.
Bruce Rasher of RACER said the trust continues to work on reuse of the vast Buick City site.
“RACER is continuing to market the remainder of the property for sale to a buyer or buyers who will invest in redevelopment and job creation,” Rasher said in an email to MLive-The Flint Journal. “As with American, we will consider and evaluate offers for portions of the property, recognizing that a single buyer is unlikely to have a need for the entire parcel.
“We have continued to work with Mayor (Dayne) Walling and his staff, as well as the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, to seek opportunities for beneficial reuse. They are terrific partners to RACER, and I am confident that our combined efforts will continue to bear fruit.”
Hook said jobs are still available at American with a total of 50-60 employees expected to be working here at full capacity.
“There’s a lot of hires to be made,” Hook said, and the company has hired it Flint plant manager, Tom Andersen, who started working this week.