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 PONTIAC, Mich., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- General Motors North American Truck Platforms (NATP), the City of Pontiac and real estate developer, Etkin Equities, Inc., jointly announced today the beginning of a project that: breathes new life into a closed GM plant in Pontiac, brings nearly 2,500 additional GM jobs to the City of Pontiac, and sets the stage for new economic development in a former manufacturing area.
 After months of planning and researching the project, GM has now given the green light for the team to renovate the former Pontiac Central Truck Assembly Plant into a contemporary office and light industrial building for the Truck Platforms headquarters employees who are currently housed in 11 leased facilities located throughout Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan.
 The new facility will be called the NATP Truck Product Center and will bring the truck development organization together under one roof for the first time in GM history.
 The Truck Product Center will also serve as the anchor for an entire real estate development site known as Centerpoint Business Campus, a farsighted mixed-use development of Etkin Equities, Inc. The campus will be shaped on the former site of this obsolete assembly plant in addition to surrounding GM property located along South Boulevard between Opdyke Road and Woodward Avenue.
 Etkin Equities, Inc., working closely with the City's planning office, plans to develop the campus for restaurants, financial institutions, office research, light industrial buildings, a major health and fitness club and other types of facilities that will support the Truck Product Center as well as the entire community.
 During a ceremony before community and state leaders, Clifford J. Vaughan, GM vice president and group executive for NATP; Douglas M. Etkin, president of Etkin Equities, Inc.; and Pontiac Mayor Wallace E. Holland triggered the detonators bringing down an exterior wall from the existing GM structure.
 Vaughan said: "The Truck Product Center signals to everyone involved in the truck world that GM is dedicated to and really focusing in on the truck business.
 "Being together in one facility will enable us to streamline our development process by responding and making decisions much more quickly. The effort will benefit the ultimate customer by our being able to bring new products to market at lower cost and higher quality. That's what it's all about.
 "This really is a team effort," Vaughan added. "GM, the UAW, the community and the developer had to develop the best business case possible before approving this project."
 "We are pleased to play a role in bringing this type of economic development to the City of Pontiac," said Mayor Holland. "This project will bring thousands of new jobs to the City and enable us to improve an area that has, in past years, shown signs of decline. It's the kind of economic development commitment that many cities only dream of but, through a cooperative team effort, it's now a reality for Pontiac and one that is sure to strengthen our future."
 Donny G. Douglas, president of UAW Local 594, said, "I commend those who have worked so hard to make the Truck Product Center a reality. In my opinion, this is truly an excellent business decision and we in the UAW are committed to working with the company to ensure its success."
 The Truck Product Center will allow the truck platforms development organization to become even more effective by eliminating obstacles created by the separate geographic locations of the work groups, and it will complement the efforts of early product development now coordinated through GM's Launch Center in Warren, Mich.
 The current Pontiac Central Plant site, closed in December 1989, includes more than 4 million square feet of building space, of which 3 million square feet will be demolished and 1.2 million square feet will be renovated for the new Truck Product Center. Southfield-based Harley Ellington Pierce Yee Associates, Inc., is the architectural and engineering firm designing the new structure. When completed, the building will be the second largest office building in Oakland County.
 The building will house approximately 4,000 NATP headquarters employees (of which 2,500 are currently located outside of the City of Pontiac), including product engineers, manufacturing engineers, and supporting staff employees such as financial, personnel and business planning.
 Through an innovative development package, GM will sell the main Central Plant site to a special purpose entity organized by Merrill Lynch and then lease back the office space for the Truck Product Center. The peripheral land surrounding the plant site, approximately 130 acres which GM owns, will be leased to Etkin Equities for additional development.
 "Our vision stems from General Motors' vision. They had the vision to take the existing 4-million-square-foot obsolete truck manufacturing facility and allow us to work with them to turn it into a new facility and business campus," said Etkin. "What we have as a developer is the charge and the opportunity to take a neighborhood that has historically been used for manufacturing purposes and now make it complementary to this GM project. We are going to be able to transform the neighborhood the same way the old truck manufacturing plant is being transformed to a modern office complex."
 The infrastructure required to prepare Centerpoint Business Campus consists of significant road improvement, utility installation, land balancing and other aesthetic and cosmetic items estimated to total approximately $10 million. The funding of these items will be financed through a combination of bonds issued by the City of Pontiac Tax Increment Finance Authority, potential state and federal grants, and funds provided through Etkin Equities.
 Tax incentives, as provided for this kind of rehabilitation development through Act 198 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1974, were approved by the City of Pontiac for the Truck Product Center's real estate and personal property costs.
 Truck Platforms employees are targeted to begin moving into the new facility in mid-1995. The move will occur in phases as the building is completed and leases expire on current facilities where employees are located.
 -0- 10/20/93
 /CONTACT: Linda J. Cook, group manager public affairs staff of General Motors North American Truck Platforms, 313-456-7252/

CO: General Motors North American Truck Platforms; City of Pontiac;
 Etkin Equities, Inc. ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: JVN

ML-TO -- DE022 -- 4686 10/20/93 15:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 20, 1993

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