This sign belonged to the former Liberty Park sports complex, which is on course to be replaced by a new industrial site courtesy of Ashley Capital and the Liberty Park Commerce Center.

This sign belonged to the former Liberty Park sports complex, which is on course to be replaced by a new industrial site courtesy of Ashley Capital and the Liberty Park Commerce Center.

File photo by Deb Jacques


City approves plan to develop ex-Liberty Park property

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 22, 2018

The former Liberty Park property, which once hosted sporting activities, is back in the game for a new industrial development, according to city officials.

During a May 1 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved a brownfield redevelopment plan for the Liberty Park Commerce Center, allowing an environmentally challenging site to be used for industrial development.

The brownfield plan will help clean the site up so that a developer can put a 550,000-square-foot mixed-industrial building there, city officials said.

According to Sterling Heights Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner, New York-based Ashley Capital owns and runs the Liberty Park Commerce Center and plans to put the 550,000-square-foot building on the property. The building may be used by one or multiple tenants, Bonner explained.

“This is what I would call the bread and butter for Ashley Capital and all the projects that they do,” he said. “We expect the overall project investment to be roughly $38 million and the ability to create up to 400-500 jobs once complete.”

Bonner explained that Liberty Park was originally marketed for sale in June 2016, and FedEx was soon interested in acquiring it. But on-site environmental issues led the company to change its mind in February 2017, and Liberty Park officially shut down the following month, Bonner said.

Real estate investment firm Ashley Capital expressed interest in the property in August, Bonner said. It reportedly closed on the land at the beginning of 2018 and secured a rezoning to M-2 heavy industrial in February. A brownfield redevelopment authority approved the development plan at the end of March, Bonner said.

Bonner said the property’s environmental issues include contaminated soil, which contains arsenic, cadmium and lead. An unregulated landfill is on the property, so methane issues have to be resolved, he explained.

The brownfield plan calls for the installation of a methane barrier under the building’s footprint and the placement of a ventilation system to allow the methane to “burp itself out,” Bonner said. The plan would also address soil management.

According to officials, under the redevelopment plan, tax increment financing would empower a brownfield authority to capture future new taxes that are produced through the redevelopment for as many as 15 years, though a nine- to 11-year plan is what the city is counting on. 

Those tax dollars would be used for brownfield-related projects as a reimbursement for Ashley Capital paying the cleanup costs upfront,  Bonner said. The project will get no tax abatements.

City Councilman Barbara Ziarko expressed excitement and gratitude to the firm for its interest in the property. Councilman Michael Radtke called the news “tremendous.”

“Environmental contamination scares off so many investors, and I think this will improve our city well, remediating the environmental impact,” he said.

Councilwoman Maria Schmidt said a cleanup of the site is “long overdue.” Mayor Michael Taylor was also enthusiastic.

“That is a great industrial site, and we look forward to seeing what you guys have to bring to Sterling Heights,” Taylor said.

Find out more about Ashley Capital by visiting www.ashleycapital.com. To learn more about Sterling Heights, visit www.sterling-heights.net or call (586) 446-2489.