RACER Trust Completes Series of Environmental Tasks to Facilitate Redevelopment Work at Willow Run

RACER Trust today announced it completed on schedule a series of environmental tasks that were necessary for the uninterrupted development of the American Center for Mobility and the Yankee Air Museum at a former industrial property in Ypsilanti Township, Mich.

The most significant tasks were construction of a new, landscaped storm water retention basin to collect storm water runoff from the American Center for Mobility and Yankee Air Museum properties, and construction of a new groundwater collection system. Previously, groundwater and storm water were collected in the same underground system and treated before discharge to the local utility authority, Ypsilanti Communities Utility Authority. Under Michigan law, a property owner is responsible for the management of storm water from its property.

Construction of these facilities required detailed planning and lengthy permitting processes with local, county, state and federal agencies, all of which required timely coordination to meet the November 1 deadline. New electric service was required to replace an antiquated system. RACER accelerated its field work using multiple contractors and innovative techniques to meet project deadlines. Success was essential to ensure that the American Center for Mobility could meet its construction timeline. 

“RACER Trust has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to successful redevelopment of the American Center for Mobility and Yankee Air Museum in numerous ways, including extraordinary work to accommodate construction schedules and design preferences while maintaining the integrity and safety of environmental remedies for the property,” said Elliott P. Laws, of EPLET, LLC, administrative trustee of RACER Trust. “Our team on the ground worked closely with the American Center for Mobility, Yankee Air Museum and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to achieve all project milestones to date, thus avoiding project delays. RACER Trust will continue to support the work of the American Center for Mobility and Yankee Air Museum, and looks forward to the completion of these transformative projects.”

“I want to thank RACER’s technical team and MDEQ for their collaborative approach to supporting the American Center for Mobility as we build the world’s premiere location for researching, testing and developing automated and connected vehicles,” said Andrew Smart, Chief Technical Officer for the American Center for Mobility. “To remain on schedule, a project of this size and scope requires a great deal of intense focus, fast thinking and precise execution from all parties. The stakes are tremendously high, and by staying on schedule, we ensure that the many benefits of this essential project are realized in the shortest possible amount of time.”

“RACER Trust has been a terrific partner to Yankee Air Museum for several years, both when the museum was negotiating to buy a portion of the former bomber plant building and in helping us reduce our overall costs,” said Dennis Norton, founder of the Yankee Air Museum and Michigan Aerospace Foundation. “As a donor- and sponsor-driven nonprofit, it is critical that we realize savings wherever possible without compromising quality. RACER Trust’s cooperation and collaboration have consistently enabled us to do so.”

Yankee Air Museum in 2014 purchased approximately 144,000 square feet of the historic former bomber plant at the Willow Run site. This area includes the original high bay doors where finished B24 bombers rolled off the assembly line during World War II. Purchase of the property that is being developed as the American Center for Mobility was completed in 2016.

The site historically has produced more than 100 million gallons of combined groundwater and storm water per year, all of which was collected and treated before discharge. Under the oversight and supervision of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, RACER Trust is working to design and construct an engineered wetland that would filter ground water pumped from the new collection system and channel it to an infiltration basin. If approved, work on the wetland and infiltration basin is expected to take place late in 2018.

“Redevelopment of the RACER properties is a high priority for the State of Michigan. We believe addressing environmental conditions on these sites, bringing new investment, new tax base and new jobs is an important mission,” said Kathy Shirey, acting director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Remediation and Redevelopment Division. “RACER’s commitment to get these cleanups done and integrate that work with new development is a great credit to its staff and contractors. Meeting the November 1 deadline was extremely important for the American Center for Mobility and RACER made it happen.”

About RACER Trust: RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust was created to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy. RACER is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history. When the Trust was formed, it owned properties at 89 locations in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast. The Trust was created by a settlement agreement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court between the U.S. Government, the 14 states where the former GM properties are located, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which owns land adjoining one of the properties in Upstate New York. For more information, please visit our website: www.racertrust.org.