By on October 30, 2015


The Janesville, Wisconsin, General Motors assembly plant that was shuttered six years ago will likely officially close, according to letters in a proposed agreement between United Auto Workers and the automaker, Automotive News reported.

The plant, which was opened in 1919 and once produced large SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, employed as many as 7,000 workers in the 1970s. Hundreds of workers were sent to other plants when the plant suspended operation in 2009, six months before GM’s announced bankruptcy.

The town of 64,000 people, which is the hometown for now-Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan, hasn’t announced what it would do with the 4.8 million-square-foot facility that GM still owns. Remediating the site may prove difficult with the tools and site’s history.

“As you can imagine, people have been better stewards in more recent time than in the distant past,” Gale Price, Janesville Economic Development Director, told a local NBC station.

Residents have suggested the site be converted to low-income housing, a homeless shelter or a fair or expo center.

This year, GM announced a $1.4 billion investment in its Arlington, Texas, plant which produces many of the same vehicles that Janesville once produced.

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26 Comments on “Janesville General Motors Plant Won’t Reopen Under Proposed Contract...”

  • avatar

    That looks more like a high school than an auto plant. Sh*t I gotta cram for finals!

  • avatar

    “Residents have suggested the site be converted to low-income housing, a homeless shelter or a fair or expo center.”

    People always suggest this with disused industrial implements, without considering the work or cost required to do so.

    “Oh, please spend $25,000,000 retrofitting this site, so Section 8 can move in!”

    “Yes grand, who’s paying?”

    “Uhhh, what? I’m jest sheppin at Tergets, I dunno nerthen bout hi financin’.”

    • 0 avatar

      Just knock it down.

      • 0 avatar

        Of course these types of places are normally in an absolute crap part of town (cause who wants to live near a NIMBY like that). So putting anything high-end there is questionable as well.

        In Cincinnati, they turned the old Chevrolet plant on Red Bank Road (via complete tear down) into a shopping center with a Wal-Mart and a strip mall with a couple decent-grade stores and restaurants, and a police station. It worked out well, and though the area isn’t that nice it’s close enough to nice things to keep it from turning into garbage.

        But I think it took a couple DECADES for that to happen, and sat as an eyesore until then. The Cincinnati Port Authority had to buy it out and redevelop.

        Which is the same thing they did with the Kenwood Tower and Shoppes after it sat empty and unfinished (collecting water and birds) along 71-N for about five years, after the Australian developer went bankrupt and then to jail.

        • 0 avatar

          I live about 12 miles from there and believe me, that plant is no exception. It’s located along the Rock River because that’s where you located factories in 1919 and is surrounded by bars and gas stations that once catered to the workers there. Many of those businesses are shuttered now, too, of course.

          It does have potential for redevelopment as an industrial site since it has a rail spur, easy access to the transportation grid, and gigawatts of electricity available. Problem is, nobody with a need for such infrastructure is going to be looking in this part of the midwest for a site and nobody is going to want to tackle the environmental clean up even if they got the property for free.

    • 0 avatar

      The former Wixom plant site has a giant RV dealership taking up some of the property. It’s sort of broughamy. It also has a Menards. However, most of the property is still unused. Basically 200 acres. I miss driving by the plant at night. It had all the vehicles assembled there displayed on the roof so that you could see them from I-96.

  • avatar

    That’s what other people’s money is for. Duh!

  • avatar

    Shame, the building looks in great shape for 96 years old, but the cost to gut and completely refit the interior for a new purpose is probably not worth it. The property is worth more without the building.
    It sounds like the city is worried about contamination. There’s no reason GM should be allowed to walk away and shift the cost of remediation to the local taxpayer.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been inside Janesville. I remember seeing wooden floors in some places that looked like they were soaked in century-old oil or creosote. Wouldn’t mind getting some of my old equipment out of there, but I’m sure it’s long gone already.

      We have a nice conversion of an old Model T plant to biotech lab in Cambridge MA, but it’s located in a red-hot real estate market.

  • avatar

    GM doesn’t give a damn about the people and communities from which it came.

    • 0 avatar

      …or its dealers, or its customers…

    • 0 avatar

      What is GM supposed to do with an almost 100 year old redundant and outmoded factory? Saying GM does not give a damn may be true, but what are you suggesting that they do instead? Pretend it is still 1972 and pay 7000 people to not build cars that GM no longer sells to customers they no longer have?

      For better or worse the company, car consumers, and the world, have changed a lot in the last 40 years. Janesville is casualty of that change.

      BTW I was at the demolition site of the Indianapolis GM Stamping Plant; it is/was HUGE facility that costs millions to tear down. They tried for years to find a buyer for the plant but got no offers; there is very little demand for outmoded manufacturing plants..

  • avatar

    I’m surprised they haven’t sold off the newish “smoker’s lounge” out front.

  • avatar

    When I graduated HS in ’84 from Sheboygan WI, I was an outcast among my peers for liking Ford. GM über alas! It has changed since then of course and although I believe Chevrolet remains the no.1 brand there, it’s not so GM centric as it once was. I don’t really feel vindicated, though owning a Ford is no longer necessarily a social stigma.

    Going between my home in WI and a second home and business in FL is a marked contrast. Imports are more popular with cheap Kia’s and higher end German cars. Trucks are popular in both regions, however pickups are de facto in WI particularily GM, Ford and FCA.

  • avatar

    I grew up in a GM based town also (Saginaw) and was raised with GM brands surrounding me. Most, but not all, of the plants there have closed, including Malleable steel, Chevy parts plant, parts of Saginaw Steering gear and Nodular Foundry. GM never was a company that invested in their communities and Saginaw was no exception. I know live near Midland, MI , home of Dow Chemical, and the difference is quite contrasting. Dow is very supportive of its home town and it has vastly improved the quality of life in the Midland area.
    Even though GM was not a good example of a steward to the community, it did provide thousands with very good paying jobs for decades. Saginaw was a thriving town in my youth during the heyday of GM. Sadly, it is now just a shell of what it once was.
    I do think that GM should be held responsible for any environmental remediating that needs to be performed at any of its closed plants.

  • avatar

    My parents first Chevy suburban (a 95) was built at this plant and was extremely well built and reliable the next two a 99 and 05 where built in Mexico and where nothing but problems.

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