MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) - The old General Motors plant is part of the landscape we've come to know on our drives in and out of Moraine. We reflect on the traffic and the trucks once made on the site that kept thousands of people working, but when GM put the brakes on operations at the end of 2008, the jobs left town and the property appeared forgotten.
Moraine struggled to find a buyer, someone interested in steering the plant into a new era. Hope accelerated a year ago, however, when a California-based company, Industrial Realty Group known as IRG took over.
The owners named it "Progress Park," and to see the progress we pushed for access.
All passers-by see is the scrap metal pulled from inside and hauled away to the highest bidder to make room for new business. Owners say though progress is slow they can keep their promises.
In April 2011, President Stuart Lichter told 2 NEWS, "After you've done this as long as I've done this, and you manage to be successful just about every time you've tried, we are real optimistic that we will deliver."
Lichter is partners with Chris Semarjian from Cleveland. They are the managing members of IRG Moraine LLC. On April 30th, Semarjain came to town and opened the doors to the plant so 2 NEWS On Assignment could take an exclusive look.
As he unlocked the doors I asked him, "What is it costing you to maintain, secure, pay taxes, the whole shebang? It's been almost a year now." Semarjian responded, "Probably about $50,000 a month."
First he showed us where the announcement had been made a year ago, the most modern part of the plant. I asked him if what we were seeing was a normal day inside the plant and he said, "It is now."
A Michigan company clears everything from the high ceiling to the ground like a monster devouring his catch.
"Basically our whole focus for the last year has been to go in and selectively remove the metals and the old equipment from facility to make it usable to get it ready for the next user," Semarjian said.
At the time of the tour, a final lease agreement was being worked out so that a Dayton manufacturer could move into the space where we were standing and retain jobs not necessarily create them. So I asked him.
I asked, "When we heard the announcement nearly a year ago it was a 1,000, 2,000 jobs could be created as a result of what you are doing here. Are you sticking with that?" Semarjian answered, "Absolutely."
He held to that estimate using a time frame of three to five years.
Semarjian would much prefer people to see the buildings on site clean and free of scattered parts like the area close to the paint shop. He likened the most modern section, for instance, to a person just getting out of bed unshaven and not showered. But he did show us 415,000 square feet of space ready to go.
Semarjian remarked, " We think this that having this being an open space and its proximity to the paint plant which still has most of its equipment in place is very attractive for a global manufacturer."
Piece by piece, parcel by parcel people like Chris Semarjian and Dean Miller go after the right fit at the right price. They don't wait for people to call them. They told me there are already companies paying to store items on site.
As IRG Moraine LLC works to bring the property back to life owners are in a dispute with Montgomery County over the value of it. In fact, after we met with the developers I learned that there's a huge gap between what the county thinks the property is worth and what IRG sees as its value. That impacts property taxes.
Taking numbers from the auditor's office and adding up values of seven parcels it appears IRG believes the real estate is worth $4 million. The county last year assessed the property at more than $27 million.
The dispute is expected to go before the county Board of Revision this summer.
At stake are property taxes and keep in mind property taxes for the most part go to school districts. In this case what is generated here supports two school districts, Kettering and West Carrollton.
Logan, Darke, Preble, Greene and Wayne County, Indiana are under level one snow emergencies. Butler County is under a level two snow emergency.
Snowfall reports vary across the Miami Valley as the storm continues to produce heavy snow, making it hard for drivers to see in some cases.
People's daily routines were definitely impacted by the wintry blast Friday.
The first wave of the storm brought hazardous conditions to the Greenville area in Darke County.