St. Louis Public Radio News
6:45 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

Feds kick in $1.6 million to help sell empty Chrysler plants

Fenton, MO –

The federal government is stepping in to help find new tenants for the two vacant Chrysler assembly plants in Fenton.

The government is contributing $1.6 million St. Louis County to fund an environmental study and marketing plan for Fenton's 5 million square feet of factory space.

The Fenton north plant stopped production in 2009 and the south plant in 2008.

Ed Montgomery is President Obama's Director of Recovery for Auto Communities.While he agrees that it is difficult to find a buyer for a factories this big, Fenton still has several key assets.

"It's a big facility on a major highway," notes Montgomery, "it's a big facility near a railroad line, it's a big facility with its own power-generation facility and it has a very skilled workforce right in their region."

At this time no buyer has stepped forward, but county officials say the plants location at the intersection of two major highways is a key selling point.

Still, Fenton Mayor Dennis Hancock says simply leveling the two factories is not off the table either.

"I wouldn't be surprised if that happens," says Hancock. "A building like this, I don't know how well it lends itself to some other use. This was built for a very specific purpose, so if it has to be torn down. If I were redeveloping this site I would want something pretty eye-catching along the interstate."

Hancock says living without the millions of dollars in tax revenue generated by Chrysler has forced the city to cut way back on services.