The RACER Trust was created in March 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to both clean up, and position for redevelopment, properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy. When the RACER Trust was formed, it owned more than 44 million square feet of industrial space in 66 buildings across 7,000 acres in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast. RACER is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history. Racer is responsible for conducting safe, effective environmental cleanups at approximately 60 former GM locations. The cleanups are conducted with the approval and oversight of state and federal regulatory agencies and funded by nearly $500 million that RACER received at the time of the Trust’s establishment. RACER will clean up the properties to ensure that environmental conditions are not an impediment to sale or industrial re-use. In Michigan, RACER Trust has 36 properties under various stages of environmental investigation and remediation with a total original budget over $155 million.
This project will study the feasibility of Adaptive Reuse of the concrete slab remaining from the current deconstruction of the Willow Run Factory facility in Ypsilanti, MI, 18 miles from the University of Michigan campus.
Not only is Adaptive Reuse of the concrete slab important to the Willow Run Facility, there are former manufacturing properties with thousands of acres across the country where concrete floor surfaces are left exposed. Results from this work will likely be applicable to other RACER and industrial properties across the country. Reuse of the concrete floor can save costs, foregoing the excavation and construction of a new floor or foundation, and prevent risk of exposure to the contamination contained by the concrete. For example, the original remediation plan for the Willow Run facility assumed the concrete slab base from the original factory (approximately 83 acres) would remain in place as part of the remediation.
Adaptive Reuse of concrete slabs at former manufacturing facilities presents many design opportunities. Due to the original design architect’s (Albert Kahn and Associates) robust design to accommodate large machinery, the concrete floors were designed to withhold substantial loads. Given the extraordinary quality and strength of the existing concrete slab, Adaptive Reuse of the concrete slab is considered the preferred redevelopment approach.
RACER and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are currently investigating Adaptive Reuse options for Willow Run and other former manufacturing sites. Successful utilization of Adaptive
Reuse techniques could expand brownfield redevelopment opportunities and require both technical and legal adjustments. Therefore there is a great need for detailed analysis to determine appropriate redevelopment criteria and conditions for this innovative approach.
The Adaptive Reuse protocol developed by the students working on this project could be used by buyers and regulators as part of the analysis of the site redevelopment opportunities. It is important to undertake a study to evaluate the best means and methods to repurpose the concrete slab and foundations and to develop appropriate engineering/architectural solution(s) or design alternatives. Typically, overall construction costs are less for Adaptive Reuse, but the process may be labor intensive and may take longer than new construction. RACER and DEQ believe a site analysis to evaluate adaptive reuse tools at the Willow Run Facility is an important step to better understanding alternative redevelopment options.
Some issues for adaptive reuse of existing concrete slabs at a site of contamination that RACER and DEQ are interested in reviewing include:
- Develop a protocol for environmental health and safety, geotechnical and structural testing requirements (Concrete and Civil engineering knowledge needed)
- Survey of and evaluation of Michigan’s experience (and maybe nationwide) with adaptive reuse of concrete floors.
- Building Design – what are the specifications and how might the existing slab be tested to demonstrate these specifications (Mechanical and Civil engineering knowledge needed)
- Communication of adaptive reuse site development opportunities and specifications to stakeholders: Regulators, Local Units of Government, developers, engineers, architects and general public
- Cost analysis to implement the protocol
Based on consultation with the Faculty Advisor and after the initial review meeting with the Advisory Group a scope
will be defined that can be completed in two semesters. Design Reviews will be presented to the entire Advisory Group. Student work will be independent of (but complementary) to primary project work currently undertaken by CRA.
Final reports will include a description of the conditions under which a concrete floor system can serve as a method for containing contaminated soils and also repurposed as a foundation and building floor. Site drawings and conceptual layouts of the proposed system and any applicable recommendations are expected as well as a survey of successful repurposing or reuse of existing slabs/foundations..
An Advisory Group to support the team will include the MDEQ site manager (Kevin Lund), Conestoga Rovers & Associates (“CRA”) lead representative (Beth Landale), RACER Cleanup Manager (Grant Trigger), and RACER Deputy Redevelopment Manager (Patricia A. Spitzley).
Grant Trigger: Mr. Trigger manages all aspects of site investigations; design and implementation of remedial project work; and integrating remedial project work with redevelopment activities at Trust properties in Michigan. Mr. Trigger is a professional engineer, environmental attorney, and adjunct professor of Law at the University Of Detroit School Of Law. He also serves on the Executive Council of the Michigan Chapter of the National Brownfield Association.