White Elephants No More

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Over the years, Building Official Jeff Spencer and I have often sat and pondered the meaning behind common phrases or idioms people use.   Yes, I know, we have issues.  So, I have decided it would be fun to use my blog as an opportunity to explain these phrases in a recurring segment.  My first installment:  white elephants.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a white elephant as “a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit.”  The phrase is believed to have its origins in a story about a Thai king that once presented a rare, white elephant to one of his subjects.  Under royal law, the gift could not be refused.  Since the elephant was considered sacred, the recipient was required to pay for the upkeep of the animal, but not use it for work.  As a consequence, the gift became an undue burden on the recipient.

We are excited to report that via strategic tax incentives and expedited permit processes the City of Auburn Hills has partnered with two businesses to create jobs and fill two white elephant buildings.

The vacant Wal-Mart at 300 N. Opdyke, which had been empty for almost four years, has been transformed into the corporate headquarters and primary distribution center for Legend Valve and Fitting, Inc.  The company supplies plumbing products for use in residential and commercial construction.  Converting a retail big box store into an industrial facility is often difficult due to low ceiling heights.  Since Legend Valve stocks small parts in their warehouse, they were able to solve the ceiling problem by adjusting the height of their inventory racks.  Clever!I will be reporting more in the upcoming months on Prefix Corporation, which is taking over the former Kmart building at 3500 Joslyn Road.  They are renovating the building and will be operating a low volume, custom paint production facility designed primarily for the Dodge Viper vehicle line.

White elephants no more, these buildings are being transformed from a burden into a gift.