AP News

Mayor: Connersville accepts $4M offer for plant

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The eastern Indiana city of Connersville accepted an approximately $4 million offer to sell the vacant Visteon auto parts plan to a buyer specializing in returning such sites to the tax rolls, Mayor Leonard Urban said Wednesday.

Urban said in a telephone interview that he can't reveal the name of the buyer until the deal closes. But he said the deal means that the city about 50 miles east of Indianapolis will recover most of the more than $4 million in environmental cleanup costs it has spent.

Connersville bought the site from Visteon in 2009 while wooing Carbon Motors Corp. to locate a high-tech police car plant there that would employ as many as 1,500 workers. However, when the U.S. Energy Department rejected Carbon's bid for a $310 million loan in March, it threw the company's prospects in Connersville into doubt.

Since then, Carbon has added a venture capitalist to its board of directors to help raise the millions of dollars needed to get the project off the ground.

"They're out raising capital. Things are going right down the road like they're supposed to," Urban said.

Carbon Motors' Chairman and CEO William Santana Li said Wednesday that the company is trying to get private funding for the project and still hopes to open a plant in Connersville.

"This doesn't change anything for Carbon Motors. All this means is that we may or may not have a new landlord," he said.

Urban said Carbon would occupy only about a third of the plant with 40 acres under its roof, and the new owner would work to fill the remaining space.

The Connersville News-Examiner first reported the pending sale of the plant Tuesday night. It said the deal should close by Dec. 20.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is working with the city and the proposed new buyer while still working on a deal between the city and Carbon Motors, spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock said.

Urban said the deal also would relieve the city of ownership of the sprawling site.

"I think this is a win-win for Carbon, the city, IEDC, and the new company," the mayor said.

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