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Wayne County Seizes Former Steel Site in Detroit

Scratched metal backgroundA steel plant in the Detroit area that used to employ thousands of residents has been seized by Wayne County officials after failing to pay over $3 million in taxes.

McLouth Steel sits on 180 acres of land in Trenton, Michigan, but it hasn’t been operational for several years now. The tax debt on the riverside steel site stretches back almost 10 years. Bruce Babiarz, a spokesman for the county treasurer, reported that aside from one Bay City sugar company using the grounds to store product, the property is an eyesore that hasn’t been used for quite some time.

According to Babiarz, the property is now in the custody of the office of Treasurer Eric Sabree after a foreclosure on March 31, 2017. After evading tax payments for so long, the former owner, DSC LLC Trenton Land Holdings, no longer has an opportunity to redeem the property by paying the tax debt off.

Instead, the state, city, and county will each have an opportunity to purchase the property. If each party declines, the property will go up for auction. Babiarz hopes that the property sells quickly.

“It’s such a large parcel. Hopefully it will be returned to the tax rolls soon,” Babiarz told the Detroit Free Press.

Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack has high hopes for the property. She explained that she hopes the prime location will sell quickly and be developed in a way that brings economic opportunities to the city and its residents.

“I would like to see a viable place where there’s jobs, and we can get some taxes out of it for the community,” she said.

It makes sense that the county wants the property recycled. The now abandoned plant used to be a huge source of economic prosperity for the area, providing jobs in the steel industry to residents in and around the city. But buildings may not be as easily recyclable as steel itself, 88% of which is recycled annually.

Despite the steel plant’s former success and title as the 17th largest steel mill in the U.S., county records reveal a history of forfeitures and other issues with the property.

The company, founded in 1934, filed for bankruptcy twice. The first petition was filed in 1981 and the second in 1995. After several proposals to transform the property failed in the mid-2000s, it sat abandoned.

The future of the property is uncertain, but it’s clear that county officials have high hopes.

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