While not visible to the passerby, Forsite Development is working diligently to bring down the power plant and smoke stack at the 115-acre B.C. Cobb property at the east end of Muskegon Lake.
“Once it starts, it’s going to move quickly,” said Tom McKittrick, Forsite founder and president. “It’s got our full attention.”
After about 14 months of bidding and negotiating, the North Carolina company took ownership of the property on Oct. 18. Forsite received the property and $1 million from Consumers Energy.
B.C. Cobb was shuttered in April 2016 after 67 years of operation.
Consumers spent about $22 million to shut down B.C. Cobb, said Roger Morgenstern, Consumers’ senior public information director, in April. Costs included disconnecting the plant from the power grid, removing bulk materials from the property and reconfiguring a still-operating substation.
Forsite has until October 2019 – two years – to completely remove the plant.
But the goal is to finish within 18-20 months, McKittrick said. The “mobilization process” has begun.
Inside, contractors are prepping for asbestos abatement, he said. Abatement will take about 6-8 months.
“There’s a lot of work to do inside first,” McKittrick said. “Next summer, people will start to see activity out there.”
Forsite’s redevelopment plans include converting the site into a deep-water marine terminal operated by Verplank Dock Co. for cross-Lake Michigan shipping. Forsite is working with Muskegon-area economic development officials to identify land for a sister industrial park for new players that could take advantage of the logistics route.
Finding a large enough parcel of land for an industrial park inside the city of Muskegon has proven difficult, McKittrick said.
But he’s confident that the park would attract food processors that could take advantage of Muskegon’s unique attributes: proximity to agribusiness and cross-Lake Michigan shipping, and Muskegon County’s abundance of waste water treatment capacity.
By October 2019, the former B.C. Cobb plant site will be cleared of buildings.
“It could look more like stacks of shipping containers or bulk material piles,” McKittrick said. “New buildings are very difficult to build on that site because it’s effectively sediment.”
B.C. Cobb is built on 300-foot deep pilings that go down to bedrock, he added.