In the 1980ís the vacant relic that was the former Old Mack Stamping Plant provided a stark reminder of the industrial heritage of Detroit and of its decline and decay. The earliest buildings at the plant dated back to 1916. DaimlerChrysler (formerly Chrysler Corporation) purchased the land in 1953 for use in stamping automobile bodies. In 1979, Chrysler ceased operations at the 2.3 million square foot, 34-acre site due to excess capacity, and then in 1982 transferred the site to the City of Detroit. For the rest of the 1980ís, the Mack Avenue Plant remained a stubborn brownfield.
Mack Avenue began its resurgence in 1990. The City of Detroit and Chrysler began cooperating under the threat of an EPA Unilateral Administrative Order. Instead of confrontation, the three parties worked closely together in the time-consuming and expensive task of cleansing the site of PCBs, asbestos, mercury, and paint wastes. They removed eleven million gallons of PCB-contaminated water alone. The contaminated water lay within an elaborate network of stamping press pits located throughout the plant. The water was treated using an on-site mobile water treatment system. Eventually the building itself, which stood unoccupied for 15 years, was demolished. By the time 1995 rolled around, Chrysler felt confident enough in the cleanup to plan a major new plant at the site.
Once again, the redevelopment decision resulted from cooperation between the company, city, and higher levels of government. In 1995, the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit signed a "covenant not to sue" with Chrysler. The City also acquired additional land in order to accommodate a site big enough for the new plant and undertook beautification projects that would go along with a modern business park. On its side, Chrysler invested $1.6 billion in the Mack I & II Engine Plants.
The project has added 2,000 quality industrial jobs to Detroitís economy and is the single biggest investment in Detroitís empowerment zone. The Presidentís Council on Sustainable Development and Renew America jointly presented the project with a 1999 National Award for Sustainability. What had been both a symbolic and actual site of decline during the 1980ís has became a symbol of industrial resurgence and the ability of public/private partnerships to successfully redevelop difficult brownfield sites.
For more information, please contact:
Gregory M. Rose, Senior Manager
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352