ONTARIO ─ Revitalization at the Ontario Commerce Park, the former General Motors site, started strongly, according to Chris Salata, chief operating officer for Industrial Commercial Properties (ICP).
The Solon-based developer signed a development agreement with Ontario in November, purchasing six acres of the land and the former press prep building.
Salata updated Ontario City Council on the redevelopment Wednesday evening and said Charter Next Generation (CNG) has assembled the first machine in the building, ready for a test run.
CNG is entering the specialty bag market with the expansion to Ontario. Earlier this month, the company told Richland Source that it will invest $67 million in the site through the next three years. It will install 16 blown-film production lines and 13 specialty bag machines, which could eventually create 300 jobs.
Salata said Wednesday ICP has transformed the press prep building within a short time to accommodate CNG’s need. ICP spent about $3.3 million revamping the eastern roofline, adding new loading docks and many other projects.
Ontario Mayor Randy said the change of the facility was “phenomenal” after touring the building on Wednesday.
ICP will start construction of a second facility on Thursday for CNG’s use. Salata said by the end of this year, the manufacturer will have almost 135,000 square feet of space to operate.
The two companies are also working on building another 200,000-square-foot facility, which Salata said will be completed at the end of 2022. In total, ICP is going to invest close to $20 million in renovation and building new facilities.
ICP will reactivate the railroad on-site for CNG and future tenants. Salata said the company is working with Norfolk Southern Railroad to investigate the rails’ condition and the potential cost for repair.
The rails enter the site from the south and split, Salata said. One goes to the east side of the press prep building, which CNG can utilize in the future. The other goes to the west. The reactivation will take six to 10 months.
Salata said ICP has received multiple information requests about the site and expects more to come in the future.
“This is one of the only sites in Ohio that has all of the attributes that we've always talked about: large square footage, access to freeway, utilities, rail,” he said.
The COO also said the company has been discussing internally acquiring more lands for future development.
“As we start to evaluate the future of CNG operations out there, it may make sense for us to take down a larger chunk than we might otherwise have done,” he said.
However, the concrete building pad for GM’s former stamping plant might significantly affect the developable square footage in the future. Salata said while ICP doesn’t own the land yet, the company would like to work with the city to investigate the parcel and check if they can construct any building on that.
He suggested using GPS Radar technology to get the thickness of the 60-acre concrete pad. The proejct might cost $40,000 to $50,000. ICP also has to check with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to see whether it will create an environmental liability issue if the pad was removed.
Salata said the pad is located at the center of the site. If ICP were able to build a facility on it, the development will move faster and cost less money. If not, it will decrease the developable land at the 264-acre site.
Sherry Branham, Ontario 3rd ward city council member and economy development committee chairwoman, thanked ICP for its efforts on Wednesday. She also asked the company to update the council quarterly on the redevelopment project, to which Salata agreed.
Hutchinson said the communication with ICP has been great, so he’s excited about the commerce park’s future.
“I took a risk when I brought that (Ontario took over the property from the former developer) to council a few years and council backed me on it. Now, it's paying off,” the mayor said.