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AUBURN HILLS, MI-The Brown Road Group of Royal Oak, MI has paid more than $6 million for a 100-acre landfill that straddles the city and Orion Township. It plans to build a large industrial park on the property.

Carl Cyrowski, president of Cyrowski Commercial Real Estate Inc. of Clarkston, says there are two interested parties for the property. One is Delphi, an automotive supplier, for a 140,000-sf building, Cyrowski says. The other is the US Postal Service, which has been looking for a site for a distribution center since Shelby Township rejected a proposal to put a center on Ford test track property.

“We’ve heard it’s between our site and one in Pontiac, so we’re in the top two,” Cyroski says.

The former Sanicem landfill, owned by the Fons Family, was recently purchased by Brown Road Group for $5.5 million. The development company also agreed to pay the back taxes on the property, a total of $950,000.

The city and the township have agreed to use tax increment financing, which would pay the company back for cleanup of the property. The company will pay clean the property, and get paid back by a refund of increases in taxes once the property is developed.

“The land was a dump for household waste in the 1960s and 1970s.The Fons family closed the landfill in the 1980s,” says Paul Bohn, a Northville-based environmental consultant hired by the Brown Group. “It was closed due to violations, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality performed limited remediation on the property.”

The property consists of 100 acres in Auburn Hills and 40 acres in Orion Township. The property also held a ski lodge that operated for about three years in the late 1970s, Bohn notes.

“The Silver Bell Ski Lodge wasn’t very profitable, and it was abandoned. It’s still up, and will likely have to be demolished before the property can be developed,” he says.

The cities and state were extremely helpful in closing the land sale and helping with the TIF, Bohn tells GlobeSt.com. The communities see the benefits of a land reuse option that is just taking shape in Michigan.

“People have been redeveloping landfills in Asia and Europe for decades, where land reuse is very feasible,” Bohn says. “With assistance of brownfield financing laws, it helps close deals.”

Cyrowski brought the two parties together for the deal. He says brownfield financing has been great for cleaning up dilapidated property.

“Now, who buys the property is not liable for any environmental problems,” Cyrowski says. He adds the Fons family included an indemnification clause in the sales contract, clearing Fons of any responsibility for the site.

The Brown Road Group will be spending more money to clean up the property, including installing a landfill gas collecting system, Bohn says.

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