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Flint's old Buick City is getting a new tenant

An old auto plant site is getting new life in Flint.

"We are proud to announce,” Flint Mayor Dayne Walling told a news conference today, “American Pipe will be made in Flint”

Alabama-based American Cast Iron Pipe Company confirmed today that it plans to build a new multi-million dollar manufacturing plant on part of the old Buick City site.

The factory will produce pipes for a project to bring water from Lake Huron to Genesee County. 

Patrick Hook is with American. He expects the Flint plant will produce pipelines for other water projects as well.  Hook says a growing number of communities will have to replace aging water systems in the coming years.

“With the location here in Flint, we feel we have opened up some additional markets, especially to the eastern seaboard and the northeast,” says Hook. 

Hook says the plant should employ up to 60 people when it opens a year from now.

More than 20,000 auto workers were employed at GM’s old Buick City assembly plant at one time.  One of them was Jamie Curtis. Curtis is now the chairman of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners.  He says today’s announcement has special meaning for him.

“I can close my eyes and see what used to be,” Curtis says, “and now with my eyes open, I can envision what will be.”

There’s still another 200 acres of the Buick City plant that remain little more than a slab of concrete.

“To have a company with the stature of American come in and say 'we’re OK with this, we’re OK with the community, we’re OK with the environmental issues … is a message that we’re going to be blasting all over,” said Elliot Laws, the administrative trustee of the Racer Trust, which was created to dispose of GM's abandoned real estate.  

Laws said the investment that American Cast Iron Pipe is making will help interest other buyers. He hinted that there could be an announcement about another company buying up part of the old Buick City site in the next six months. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.