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RACER looks for redeveloper at GM site

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MASSENA - Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response trust officials are continuing to look for potential developers for the former General Motors Powertrain site even as work continues on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund remediation effort.

The remediation project is scheduled to be completed by 2016, and RACER officials say the size and type of a redevelopment operation would affect when it could move in.

Redevelopment Manager Bruce Rasher said RACER is working with a number of developers who have expressed interest in the property. However, Mr. Rasher could not disclose information about the interested parties due to a confidentiality agreement. The agreement is important to prevent a party’s competitors from learning of their plans and to prevent the disclosure of the possible relocation to company employees, who may prefer to work in a different location, Mr. Rasher said.

Potential developers will only be revealed to local government officials once the party has reached a point in which property acquisition seems likely. The disclosure of interest in the site poses problems for potential developers, Mr. Rasher said.

All interested parties have to invest a large amount of money into researching the advantages and disadvantages of the site, which could go to waste if local government officials reject the developer.

“It’s sort of a chicken and the egg thing,” Mr. Rasher said.

Nearly 40 owners or representatives of Ottawa and Montreal businesses gathered in late October to find out more about the assets Massena and the north country have to offer.

The business prospects listened to presentations at the New York Power Authority’s Frank S. McCullough Hawkins Point Visitors Center, ate lunch, heard Rep. William L. Owens speak at Vino Vidi Vici Restaurant and wrapped up the day with a bus tour of the Massena Industrial Park and former General Motors Powertrain site.

RACER officials said it uses six criteria to evaluate potential developers, one of which is support from the local community.

“This truly is a very integrated and involved process,” Deputy Redevelopment Manager Patricia Spitzley said. “The local community does have a role to play to put together this economic plan to develop the site.”

Legislator Anthony J. Arquiett, chairman of the North Country Redevelopment Task Force, believes the community needs a developer that is sustainable, environmentally friendly, and one that will make a long-term commitment to the area.

“We hope that company lives up to the criteria of RACER,” Mr. Arquiett said. “I think we’re all working toward the same goal.”

Mr. Rasher suggested that concerned residents comment at NCRTF meetings, which are held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month the Massena Town Hall.

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