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Deal will tear down eyesore former steel plant in Trenton

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Wayne County has finalized a deal that will rid the city of Trenton of one of its worst eyesores - the long-vacant McLouth Steel plant.  

The buyer is Crown Enterprises, a Moroun family business.  The company will acquire the property for $4 million - the amount owed on unpaid property taxes after McLouth's last owner, Detroit Steel, went bankrupt.

The deal requires Crown Enterprises to spend another $20 million to demolish the steel plant and other buildings on the site within two years, and clean up the pollution from four decades of steel making.   

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will oversee the remediation, and it's hoped that the property will also be declared a Superfund site, to add federal dollars to the cleanup.

Khalil Rahal is an assistant county executive for Wayne County. He says McLouth Steel once employed 5,000 people.  Now, it's just a sad reminder of a lost era.

"People used to look at that site and revere it for all it was glorious for," says Rahal, "and seeing it from what it once was to what it is now is heartbreaking.  When this thing does come down, it's going to be a celebration, not just in Trenton but all through Downriver."

Rahal says the contract includes safeguards to control noise and traffic to minimize the disruption to nearby neighborhoods.

Rahal says redeveloping the property for residential or recreational uses would have been prohibitively costly, given the amount of pollution that exists on it.  But he says the site is on a stretch of the Detroit River that has a deep port, and it is very close to I-75, which will make it attractive to new industrial redevelopment.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.