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Chemical company looking at Ann Arbor area to build headquarters

A chemical company looking to open its North American headquarters and research and development facility is eyeing several areas around Ann Arbor after previous attempts to begin construction failed in Pittsfield Township.

Wacker Chemical Corporation has received letters in support of a potential development from leaders in Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township and Scio Township for its facility that would be 70% corporate headquarters and 30% research and development space.

The Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees unanimously rejected a rezoning request for this facility last October, after months of public hearings on a proposal to build it next to Marsh View Meadows park.

The plan had been back-and-forth in the community and township government for months through three public discussions at the planning commission and two at the township board.

Leaders ultimately said they felt the proposal didn’t match the development plan for the area, located on South Avis Drive near Textile Road.

The international company wanted to move its offices, which are currently in Adrian, to Ann Arbor because of the area’s talent, Wacker CEO David Wilhout has said.

A new potential site in Pittsfield Township, located on South State Street and Avis Drive, is in a business district next to a pharmaceutical company and other similar engineering, chemical and research firms. That zoning permits office, research and commercial spaces.

Scio Township and Ann Arbor officials say no proposals have been submitted yet, but the company has looked at several sites in each community, including near Research Drive in Ann Arbor.

The building would have a capital investment of at least $60 million, according to a letter from Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal. The letter states the business could receive a 50% tax abatement.

“Pittsfield Township has historically granted such incentives for projects which enhance the community’s business community and expand its tax base,” Grewal wrote in the letter, which was unanimously approved at the Wednesday, April 8, Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Wacker Chemical officials confirmed they are continuing plans to build the headquarters, which is expected to bring or move 300 jobs to the area. A spokeswoman declined to say which sites the company is considering, citing continued discussions.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor wrote in a letter of support the city is “selective” in its use of tax abatements.

“However, the subject properties have been vacant or functionally obsolete for a significant number of years and the potential benefits of this project exceed what the City might normally expect for this area,” he wrote in an undated letter. “These factors lend your development a stronger than normal case for consideration of a tax abatement.”

Scio Township Supervisor Jack Knowles also said “the right proposal on the right site” could be accepted by township leaders, in a December 2019 letter of support.

All three letters said a proposal would be subject to site plan approval.

Wacker Chemical produces a variety of chemical-based products, including products in textiles, paints and more, according to its website. The company has made hand sanitizer and shared four 18-liter pails with emergency services in Pittsfield and Scio townships and Adrian, company officials said.


Posted By: mlive on April 16, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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