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Grant To Support Redevelopment Of Former Palace Of Auburn Hills

Metro Detroit Traffic & Transportation NewsLansing, MI - On Friday, March 1, 2024, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced the award of a state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) grant that will support critical redevelopment efforts at the site of the former Palace of Auburn Hills with the potential to create up to 963 new jobs and spark $278 million private investment in the city of Auburn Hills.

Administered by MDOT, the TEDF grant helps finance public highway, road and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers. The road project submitted by the City of Auburn Hills will improve M-24 (Lapeer Road), which will increase investment and job creation at the former Palace of Auburn Hills site and support a General Motors (GM) facility.

“The City of Auburn Hills appreciates MDOT’s support to install roadway improvements that will facilitate proper traffic flow in and out of the new GM facility,” said Mayor Brian Marzolf. “This area of Lapeer Road serves as a critical thoroughfare and this cooperative project will also increase the safety in the area. Perhaps most exciting is that this new building will greatly enhance economic vitality as the new plant will serve the needs of the GM Orion Assembly plant and the future of electric vehicles. Road projects like this connect workers to jobs and provide important links for our communities.”

“We appreciate MDOT’s infrastructure grant for the new Auburn Hills supplier logistics center that will support GM’s Orion Assembly plant,” said Paris Pavlou, executive director of Global Purchasing and Manufacturing Services, General Motors. “The improvements that will result on Lapeer Road will benefit not only GM, but our suppliers and the community.” 

Years after the demolition of the Palace of Auburn Hills, the dormant site will be re-imagined with a new development. This development is for a supplier facility to serve GM's expansion at its Orion Assembly Plant. GM will be leasing the facility from the property developer, PAH Real Estate, a subsidiary of Schostak Brothers and Co. Piston Automotive will be operating the facility on behalf of GM, pending approval of additional state incentives.

Piston Automotive is a part of Piston Group, a company comprised of Piston Automotive, LLC; Piston Interiors, LLC; Detroit Thermal Systems, LLC; and A. Lava and Son, LLC. The group was founded by former NBA champion Vinnie Johnson. Piston Group is one of the largest private, minority-owned automotive suppliers in North America. It designs, engineers, assembles, and manufactures a wide variety of automotive parts and systems. This planned $278 million combined private investment from Piston Automotive and PAH Real Estate has the potential to create 963 jobs through the transformation of the site of the former Palace of Auburn Hills.

The site selection process prioritized the proximity to the Orion Township plant, the road infrastructure between and surrounding the two sites, the timeline for a site to be operational, and site specification requirements. To secure this investment, the City of Auburn Hills, MDOT, the Road Commission for Oakland County, and PAH Real Estate worked collaboratively to determine the infrastructure needs and find a solution.

“It has been great working with MDOT, the City of Auburn Hills, and GM on the TEDF grant. We are very excited to have been selected and we are looking forward to breaking ground on this electrifying project,” said Jeffrey Schostak, president of Schostak Brothers.

In its current state, access to the site is inadequate for the proposed use of generating more than 1,000 daily commercial vehicle trips and more than 2,000 daily passenger trips to and from the site, which could cause significant impacts on traffic in the area. Proposed improvements, such as widening the roadway of southbound M-24 to include additional through-lanes, right and left-turn lanes, reconfiguring crossovers between the northbound and southbound lanes, modernizing and relocating traffic signals, and increasing access to the I-75 connector ramp, were deemed necessary.

“For nearly three decades, The Palace of Auburn Hills served as an economic and entertainment hub not just for the city, but the region and entire state,” said state Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield. “I am excited to see these state funds help breathe new life into this memorable location, creating jobs and continuing to support our vital auto industry while also improving our roads and transportation needs for all."

“I’m thrilled to help deliver on the promises we’ve made to put people first by creating opportunities for more jobs and to grow the local economy,” said state Rep. Brenda Carter, D-Pontiac. “This TEDF grant will help Auburn Hills develop over 900 new jobs and is expected to generate millions in private investments. The improvements on M-24 funded through this grant will bolster the infrastructure with a new highway and other road and street projects, allowing future redevelopment of the former Palace of Auburn Hills site. This new grant is great news for the hard-working people in my district, especially. This investment from the state is an example of the future of Michigan. We are investing in people and infrastructure. Michigan is ready for world-class opportunities that spark economic expansion and growth.”

Total project cost for these road improvements is $2,533,620. Category A of the TEDF will provide $2,007,820, with the remaining non-construction project costs, including 20 percent match of $525,800, provided by the City of Auburn Hills and PAH Real Estate.

Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, TEDF "Category A" or "Targeted Industries Program" grants provide state funding for public roadway improvements that allow road agencies to respond quickly to the transportation needs of expanding companies and eliminate inadequate roadways as an obstacle to private investment and job creation. Eligible road agencies include MDOT, county road commissions, cities, and villages. More information about the program is available online at www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.

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