Commissioner: Potential demolition of former GM plant factor in - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Commissioner: Potential demolition of former GM plant factor in purchase

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Caddo Parish commissioners voted 11-to-1 on Thursday, August 22 to buy the former GM Shreveport assembly plant. Caddo Parish commissioners voted 11-to-1 on Thursday, August 22 to buy the former GM Shreveport assembly plant.
Elio Motors wants to begin production next summer on its a three-wheeled vehicle at the old GM building in Shreveport. Elio Motors wants to begin production next summer on its a three-wheeled vehicle at the old GM building in Shreveport.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Did Caddo Parish Commissioners help save a major Ark-La-Tex landmark from the wrecking ball down the road? That's what a commissioner is telling KSLA News 12. But it took $7.5 million in taxpayer dollars to save the old GM plant in Shreveport from the potential for demolition, if no one else bought the place. That's just one of several reasons commissioners are giving for the purchase.

"What RACER Trust did was they threatened us to tear down the building for scrap value and we believed them," said Caddo Parish District 4 Commissioner Matthew Linn.

Linn told us that the current owner of the former General Motors plant, RACER Trust, made it clear that demolishing the facility was indeed a possibility if the commission didn't sign on the dotted line this week and if RACER could then not find any other suitable buyer within 12 months.

Linn described the $7.5 million dollar purchase of the plant as a good deal. "Scrap value on the building was, two months ago, eight million forty thousand. And the price of copper has skyrocketed since then. So, it's worth more than that now."

But several other Caddo Commissioners told KSLA News 12 that they did not feel threatened at all with a potential demolition of the former GM plant. Either way, commissioners voted 11-to-1 on Thursday, August 22 to buy the plant.

Linn says the nearly-finalized agreement means Elio Motors will simply lease a third of the space at the plant to build its 3-wheeled vehicle. That makes the real power broker in the deal, a proven developer of former G.M. plants called Industrial Realty Group, IRG, and its president Stuart Lichter.

IRG would manage the entire property and find other companies to lease the remaining space at the facility. "I've met with some of the largest commercial brokers in northwest Louisiana and they have given their blessing on this," added Commissioner Linn.

But the lone dissenting vote Thursday came from Commissioner Stephanie Lynch. She told us shortly after the vote, "So, I feel like John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness." Lynch filed a lawsuit in Caddo District Court to stop the deal, explaining: "That our taxpayer dollars will be saved and that they will find a more viable suitor for the GM plant."

Caddo Parish Attorney Charles Grubb told us that the agreement would call for IRG to keep the facility available for Elio Motors for the next 30-months, while their business plan unfolds. It would also call for IRG to invest $7.5 million dollars in the start-up company.

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