Wolverine Packing is among the nation’s leaders in production of beef, poultry, and other meat products, filling almost any size order for both international and domestic customers. When embarking on their fifth meat processing and freezing facility, they contracted with Tippmann Innovation, a nationally-recognized specialty, industrial cold storage builder.

In February 2019, Wolverine Packing opened their 180,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art facility on eight acres of land at the southwest corner of Dequindre Road and Canfield Street in Detroit. The facility includes a freezer area, mezzanine production area, and a shipping and receiving dock.

The property was formerly owned by the City of Detroit and was operated as part of a 14-acre public park. Prior to being a park, the property was comprised of over 70 historical residential and commercial parcels. SME was brought onto the project team to provide environmental assessment of the site.

When Tippmann learned that SME is a “one stop shop” for engineering services, what started as phase I ESA for the property evolved into a multi-service package for the development of this facility.

Our team helped Wolverine Packaging improve project economics by securing $2.8 million in brownfield tax increment financing (TIF) for reimbursement of both environmental and non-environmental costs. The plant was also recognized as an industrial development district, making it eligible to receive tax exemptions for 12 years. The project plan included the use of urban stormwater management/green infrastructure to reduce the impact of the development on the City of Detroit’s infrastructure and to improve the environment.

SME also helped the team manage site challenges related to undocumented vacated alleys and easements, historic infrastructure, client expectations, understanding level of risk for options, due care (vapor intrusion) concerns with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (formerly MDEQ).

SME’s surveying team performed ALTA surveys, construction staking, layout, and as-built services. Our civil team performed land entitlement services, including site planning, construction plans, and permitting for the project. SME also provided construction materials services (CMS) including construction administration during the construction phase. Because our team was easily able to work closely together throughout the project, SME was able to help the project meet tough deadlines during the limited construction season in Southeast Michigan.

Tippmann Innovation was awarded the Controlled Environment Building Association’s 2019 Built By the Best Award, honoring the contractor who constructed the year’s most innovative and complex temperature controlled facility.

Aside from innovation, the most notable aspect of this project was the positive impact the new facility had on Detroit’s Eastern Market community. Wolverine Packing employs close to 150 residents, and also reconstructed Forest Park into a three-acre park complete with a walking path, basketball courts, baseball field, playground, and workout area for the neighborhood to enjoy.