Charter Next Generation, the result of a recent merger between Next Generation Films and Charter NEX, will lease the 45,000-square-foot building and make specialty bags, according to Dan Niss, president of Charter.
Niss said production will start in March, and envisions expanding.
“I personally believe that in three to four years, we can have blue buildings there everywhere,” Niss said, alluding to Charter Next Generation’s campus in Lexington.
Charter Next Generation, which produces specialty films, operates 12 manufacturing plants and employs over 1,500 people.
ICP is investing a seven-figure sum to retrofit and refurbish the press prep building for Charter, according to Chris Salata, chief operating officer of ICP.
“I think it’s our goal to bring economic development and jobs back to this site as soon as possible,” he said.
According to the development agreement, Ontario is granting ICP the exclusive right to buy all 264 acres of the property or pay $5,000 per acre until Dec. 31, 2024, with an option to extend that timeline.
After the council meeting, Salata said ICP has committed to building a 200,000-square-foot “spec” building in the northwest corner of the property, and plans to buy other portions when tenants are lined up.
He also said the company would work with other developers should the opportunity present itself.
“If another developer came along and wanted to purchase a portion of the land and work with us in a joint venture or develop on their own… we have no box that we’re working in,” Salata said. “That’s part of the flexibility that I think we got with council. Whatever it takes to bring jobs and economic development here, we’re open to that.”
ICP has developed five former automotive sites in Ohio and Michigan that belonged to GM and Ford Motor Company, according to Salata, who said the Fourth Street site has “incredible potential.”
“There are few if any locations this size in the entire state of Ohio that has this type of infrastructure access and amenities for industrial redevelopment,” Salata said.
Ontario has owned 2525 Fourth St. for just over two years.
After more than a year of negotiations, the city announced in September 2018 that it had agreed to a settlement in lieu of filing a lawsuit against Ontario Business Park, which bought the property in 2012 from RACER Trust.
At the time, RACER — the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust — controlled the sale of 89 former GM plants in 14 states.
In the settlement, Ontario Business Park, a joint venture between Adler Group Inc. and Hilco Trading LLC, of Northbrook, Illinois, agreed to transfer the property along Fourth Street to the city for the release of $1 million being held in escrow and a termination of the development agreement.
When the property was purchased, officials with Adler Group, a Miami, Florida-based realty company, said they planned to redevelop the site into a modern, multi-tenant facility that would create 1,130 jobs over five years.
According to the development agreement with Ontario, if there weren’t 500 jobs on the premises in five years, the city would receive $1 million, which was to be held in escrow. Ontario was to receive another $1 million at the end of 10 years if the promised jobs were not created.
Ontario Business Park, after receiving approval from council, tore down the property’s buildings, including the water tower and power plant, and scrapped the materials for an unknown amount, estimated in the millions of dollars.
In June 2017, the city sent Ontario Business Park a notice of default, alleging the company was in violation of the development agreement because it hadn’t created the required 500 jobs on the site within the first five-year term.
As a consequence, the $1 million that Ontario Business Park had placed in escrow securing the job creation obligation would be forfeited to the city.
Ontario Business Park officials came to a November 2017 council meeting, arguing the notice was untimely and in breach and threatening legal action.
‘Nothing more than an eyesore’: Ontario council grills Adler Group on GM site
City and Ontario Business Park representatives met several times to try to settle their differences, with the city ultimately deciding to receive the entire property after considering litigation costs, time and the state of the property.
Since Ontario took ownership of the property, bushes, shrubbery and underbrush along the fence line were cleared, scrap metal, glass and rubble that littered the grounds has been cleared, electricity was installed to a portion and an old sewer line in the largest still-standing building was repaired.
The 45,000-square-foot press prep building is the largest structure that remains standing. Built in 1984, it has 42-foot high ceilings.
Last year, council members were torn between selling the building as is or making some or all the utilities functional to increase its value.
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