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GM finalizes deal on land for battery plant

LORDSTOWN — General Motors has finalized the purchase of 158 acres for a $2.3 billion next-gen battery-cell plant.

The automaker plans heavily to rely upon this plant as it embarks on an all-electric vehicle future.

The $5.1 million deal for the Tod Avenue property, adjacent to GM’s former assembly plant, is with NP Lordstown 173 LLC, an affiliate of Kansas City-based North Point Development.

GM formerly owned the land, but rid itself of it, as well as dozens of other pieces of land across the U.S., as part of its 2009 bankruptcy. NorthPoint acquired the the property in November 2014 from RACER, or Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, which was assigned the task of overseeing the sale and redevelopment of the former GM properties.

NorthPoint planned to develop the property into an industrial park with a combination of industrial, warehouse and light manufacturing uses, but ultimately did not.

GM has applied for and is awaiting OKs on environmental permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to build the 2.5 million-square-foot facility — large enough to contain 31 football fields.

The closing is “another step forward in making our vision a reality. While these are certainly challenging times, we continue moving forward on this important project,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores.

The sale closed Monday, according to the Trumbull County Auditor’s office website. The property was among six GM considered in the region to build the plant.

GM is seeking the permits on behalf of GigaPower LLC, the working name for joint venture of GM and South Korea’s LG Chem to build the state-of-the-art plant.

The automaker has an aggressive timelime to get the facility built — it is planned to produce battery cells that will be used in packs to power 11 of 13 electric vehicles the automaker plans for in the next five years. It would employ upward of 1,100 people. The automaker hopes to break ground sometime between April and July.

GM also has filed a stormwater management plan with Lordstown that village engineers are reviewing.

“I believe this project will on the fast track with GM and LG Chem, and I look for them to start doing work in April. That’s what I’m hoping,” Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said.

Construction will disturb about 65 acres of low-quality wetlands. To mitigate the damage, GM plans to convert about 170 acres — 40 more than is required — in Mecca Township, more than 50 acres of wet meadows and more than 70 acres of forested wetland. There also will be open meadows.

The property on Mahan Denman Road north of state Route 88 is owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. GM will be responsible for monitoring the site for 10 years to ensure its success, but then it reverts back to the state and will be wetland in perpetuity.

rselak@tribtoday.com