TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Consider it a race to clean up and sell properties once owned by General Motors.

The RACER Trust, formed in March 2011 as a result of GM’s bankruptcy, is pushing to move some prime remaining sites. RACER is an acronym that stands for Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response.

That becomes clear from a WardsAuto interview at RACER’s Management Briefing Seminars exhibit with Patricia Spitzley, deputy redevelopment manager. “When we started out, we were the third-largest holder of industrial property in the United States,” she says.

RACER began with 315 properties at 89 locations in 14 states covering 44 million sq.-ft. (4 million sq.-m) of space and 7,000 acres (2,833 ha). So far 31 transactions, which include 21.7 million sq.-ft. (2 million sq.-m) and 1,990 acres (805 ha), have been completed, she says.

Funded with $773 million from federal and state sources, RACER does not simply sell or lease the former GM properties.

It’s also responsible for demolishing and cleaning up the sites in collaboration with the EPA and state environmental agencies and returning them to “industrial” standards.

Cleanup takes $500 million of the total budget. The remainder covers administrative costs and items such as taxes, security and heating, Spitzley says. “We’re operating within our budget,” she says.

RACER also consults local groups and authorities on how the properties will be used and to ensure the new owners live up to jobs they pledge as part of the transaction. RACER currently has 6,500 jobs pledged, she says.

“We can’t just sell to a developer,” Spitzley emphasizes. “The transactions also must include economic development.”

The properties include a par-3 golf course in New Jersey and the massive 217,000-sq.-ft. (20,159-sq.-m) former GM Powertrain complex in Massena, NY, where $126 million has been spent to clear and remediate the property.