There wasn’t much new information unveiled Wednesday night, when Ford officials met with community members in Highland Park to discuss what’s next in the closing of its longtime plant.
But there was a continuing sense of finality, as the car company looks beyond the Dec. 19 plant closing and the steps it will take to dismantle the plant and decontaminate the site to make it ready for eventual redevelopment.
“On a personal level, I found it hard to watch a presentation on plant decommissioning and building take-down,” said Merritt Clapp-Smith, a senior planner at the city’s Planning and Economic Development department, who’s working on the site’s transition. “It’s hard to see the end of the Ford plant legacy in St. Paul.”
About 800 workers will lose their jobs when the plant closes next month; while Ford had talked about closing the plant for years — and has kept it open much longer than originally planned — there was much consternation when the final date was announced earlier this year.
After clearing and cleaning up the site, there will be environmental reviews before Ford can sell it to someone else.
It’s hard to know who might buy the site and for what purpose, but city officials, together with residents of the area, have been looking for years at possible reuses. Mixed development with some green space, with businesses that pay above minimum wage, are all on the wish list.