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NORMAL — The former Mitsubishi plant officially has a new owner.

Rivian Automotive, which plans to employ 1,000 and invest $175 million in making electric vehicles in Normal, has purchased the plant, the company announced Thursday.

“We couldn’t be more excited to purchase this tremendous facility in the town of Normal,” said founder and CEO RJ Scaringe in a release. “This location will be crucial to bringing our products to market, and we look forward to being an active part of this vibrant community.”

Rivian operates research facilities near Detroit and San Francisco, but hopes the vacant 2.6 million-square-foot plant will be the manufacturing core of its upcoming line of cars — the first of which could be unveiled this year.

"The company is going to hit the ground running with renovations and redesigns in the plant to ensure it's in line with the 2019 start production timeline," said Rivian spokesperson Samantha Flynn.

"Rivian will also be discussing current and future opportunities with suppliers and vendors, as well as determining community projects and initiatives. The company aims to refurbish portions of the factory for community and third party use prior to full production."

No purchase price for the site was listed in the release. That information will be public once the sale has been filed with McLean County, but that hasn't happened yet, said Recording Program Administrator Mark Bounds.

”Depending where that documentation goes directly after it’s penned… it can be a week to two weeks before we receive it,” he said.

A group including Maynards Industries, a Michigan industrial asset auction, appraisal and liquidation company, bought the site in June for $2.5 million. That figure includes the land but not the contents of the plant.

The site's sale price will help determine how much Rivian pays in future property taxes. Local taxing bodies approved a five-year performance-based property tax abatement  to bring the company to town.

Normal also agreed to provide a $1 million grant to Rivian if the company meets specific employment and investment benchmarks.

“Obviously we’re very pleased they followed through with their intention to purchase the plant. It was our expectation they would after all the taxing bodies approved the (abatement),” said Normal City Manager Mark Peterson.

Normal officials expect to meet with Rivian next week to finish details of their agreement that also requires the town to provide mowing, snow removal and supplemental security at the site.

The company also is expected to receive state incentives. The Illinois Attorney General's office is reviewing a request from Lee Enterprises' Springfield Bureau for information about the possible incentives after the request was denied by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Rivian also rolled out a new website on Thursday that includes a photo of the plant labeled "Rivian Production Facility, Normal, IL."

The company, which operated in secret for several years, left "stealth mode" in December and hopes to be more transparent going forward, Scaringe said.

Peterson said he has "been encouraged by their clear commitment to be involved in the community.” 

"Rivian is working with local educational institutions for a variety of training and technical programs," according to the release. "Rivian also plans to designate part of the site for community use and provide space for first-responder training."

Mitsubishi shut down production at the plant in November 2015 and laid off the last employees in May. The plant employed 1,200 before closing and about 3,000 at its peak.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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