State officials on Wednesday pledged $500,000 to the city of Janesville to help raze a General Motors factory that has languished for nearly a decade there.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced it has awarded Janesville an Idle Sites Redevelopment grant to offset the costs of clearing away six buildings at the GM factory’s 1,140-acre assembly plant area, including the 3.9 million-square-foot main plant.
The plant — which produced tractors, trucks, cars and ammunition — was built in 1918 and employed 7,000 workers at its peak, in 1970, before GM shut it down in 2008.
“The former GM assembly plant represents nearly a century of Janesville history. While its demolition is an emotional event for many of our citizens, we look forward to closing this chapter and progressing towards the future,” Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag said in a statement. “This site holds much potential for the residents of Janesville, and we’re excited to see it put back to good use, bringing jobs to our citizens and progress for the community.”
Demolition work is underway at the site and is scheduled to wrap up by June 2020. Redevelopment and remediation work there is expected to take “several years,” according to a WEDC release.
The grant will pay for work to demolish the plant north of railroad tracks at the site. It will not pay for the redevelopment of a haul-away yard south of the tracks.
The St. Louis-based Commercial Development Co. plans to raise the buildings to clear about 1 million square feet of space for future industrial and warehouse operations that require railroad service.
Redeveloping the site is expected to take several years. The project requires the construction of internal roads, as well as soil testing and groundwater and remediating contamination at the site, which has weathered “various” environmental troubles in the past 20 years, according to a release. Future remediation work could include the cleanup of Rock River sediment to improve water quality.
James Otterstein, economic development manager for the Rock County Development Agency, said county leaders and businesses are hopeful that the redeveloped property will attract new investments.
“The property’s railroad and energy infrastructure networks represent value-added assets that will assist with the redevelopment efforts,” Otterstein said.Follow @natebeck9