Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Technical Center of Your Dreams

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I know many readers have always wanted to own the Great Lakes Technical Center on S. Saginaw Street. Well, now's your chance. Williams & Williams will auction off the complex on December 15.
"Developed in 1987 as a high tech engineering and development facility for the General Motors Corporation, the Great Lakes Technology Center is a highly flexible 693,000 +/- sq ft facility," according to iStockAnalyst. "The site is located on a 40 +/- acre campus, near Interstates 475, 69 and 75 and Bishop International Airport. The Center consists of five buildings ranging in size from the original General Motors 54,000 sq ft administration building to a three-story, nearly 384,000 sq ft adaptive use facility. It is move-in ready and capable of being utilized for almost any conceivable purpose including office space, manufacturing, industrial, light industrial or retail.

“'The Great Lakes Technology Center is unprecedented in its design and is in pristine condition,' said Pam McKissick, President and COO of Williams & Williams. 'The adaptability of this property combined with the fact that it is being sold without reserve, presents a highly attractive real estate and business opportunity.'"


  1. Seems like just yesterday that I went to Prom the "Atrium Room"

  2. Wonder if it would be suitable to be used as a film studio. There's sure a lot of room for scene sets and staging. Acoustics?? Some cities are offering 40% off to those folks. The money that it would generate for the city's commerce and support industry might offset the discount offered. I don't know much about this type of trade off, but it seems plausible....unclebuck

  3. It should be noted in passing that this discussion is about the same property as your title illustration.

    The mentioned HQ building is even essentially unchanged from the illustration.

  4. Two more aerial photos of the site.

    The original buildings, not the 1987 rebuild.

  5. My grandfather worked at Fisher 1, my dad worked at the GM Tech Centre and I work at the Genesee Business Center.

    And I like the movie studio idea.

  6. The movie studio idea sounds exciting. A long long time ago, though, I got a rather ununusual technical MFA that I haven't ended up using much careerwise, but that equips me to pontificate thusly regard how the economics won't work:

    1. There are empty large-volume manufacturing plants in many states. Michigan's 40% rebate on production taxes is competitive at the moment, but the producers will continue the whipsawing of states and provinces until somewhere else beats it in their attempt to grab the brass ring away from us.

    2. The Lansing folks continue to argue amongst themselves as to the cost effectiveness of the 40% level, given the State's fiscal straits. It's a heckuva lot of money per Michigan job, given that much of a production company's spending inevitably will be with out of state technical specialist companies. If the subsidy decreases, poof, the producers' interest is gone with the wind.

    3. Wixom offers a plant with more higher-ceiling volume, and a ~2 year head start on its proposal. Both plants have equally good interstate-highway access and technical parameters. I like south Flint, but outsiders don't know the local crime distribution... they only know "Flint", so Wixom wins points for its environment. Wixom wins further on airport access; Bishop is great, but it's not a hub for direct international traffic.

    The relevance of a Flint-Wixom comparison is that only one such cheap-to-use, snow-belt-gritty-industrial-locale studio facility is going to be needed. There just isn't enough production activity on either large sound stages or with large sets and installations to support the capital investment in equipping two facilities, even assuming that both were offered free and with free renovations.

    4. Major studio movie work looks for lowest costs. Producers have tended to go to non-union Canada over the past couple of decades because it was cheaper than paying soCal IATSE union labor rates. Both Wixom and Flint are IATSE locales. Neither has enough of a local to support a major studio; both would have to build up. With a finite amount of work, all the work would have to go to one local for its members to make a living. But in any case, there's a strong likelihood that in the long run, both Wixom and Flint would lose out to somewhere else that matched or beat the 40% *and* offered non-union labor *and* offered sunnier, more predictable weather.

    It's a nice romantic thought, though.

  7. Some competitive Michigan film studio project info:

  8. JWilly said it all. Yes, Michigan is offering great incentives for movie makers now but there are 49 other starving states looking to make a buck and the film studios ain't stupid (even though their choice of projects may say otherwise). The grass is always greener and cheaper on the other side of the fence.

  9. As usual JWilly, your probably right on target again. With one exception.The tech center is a newer type facility and not so much an industrial factory. It has forty acres also. Pipe dream on my part of coarse. I don't have the analytic and factual prowess you possess,that's why I read closely what you comment on. Keep it coming...unclebuck.

  10. The Tech Center was auctioned off - in four seperate pieces around the fifteenth of December. The biggest hunk was the east parcel. It went for $885,000. After the rest were divied up, the overall figure was just under two million bucks. I missed my guess by a mile. I used to play football out in front when I was a kid until plant protection would run us off. It had nice thick green grass. On the back side(West)was veteran's housing which was later made into parking lot(Grumkin). Me too.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at