A company that builds solar panels will spend $52 million to renovate an Auburn Hills building to create a new manufacturing plant. Bekaert-ECD Solar Systems has already won approval from the city for a 45 percent tax break to open a new plant. It has also applied for single business tax credits through the Michigan Economic Growth Authority.

The 167,000 s.f. building is currently owned by Johnson Controls Inc. Liberty Property Trust plans to buy the building in September and lease it to Bekaert-ECD.Officials at Liberty said they could not discuss the pending transaction.

Subhendu Guha, president of Bekaert-ECD and United Solar, said Auburn Hills was advantageous because of the tax breaks.”We had certain requirements in terms of space, and the city was responsive to our space and financial needs,” says Guha. “We expect that everything will be final by the end of September.”

“If everything goes as planned, we will move into the building, and start three months of renovations.” The plant is expected to be up and running in two years.

Bekaert-ECD is a joint venture between Belgium-based N.V. Bekaert S.A. and United Solar Systems Corp., which is a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices of Troy, MI. Both companies manufacture alternative energy products, including solar cells.

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