The Rise And Fall Of Kalamazoo’s Checker Motors And What May Be Buried There
Checker Motors Corporation was founded in Kalamazoo in 1922 by Morris Markin and remained in that family until its demise in 2009. What will happen with the property on Pitcher Street now?
The Quick History of Checker Motors
According to Wikipedia,
Checker made the iconic American taxi cab which was valued by taxicab companies for its durability in heavy use. Special features included large rear seats and trunks. The company had trouble competing with fleet discounts offered by the larger manufacturers, as well as economies of scale in procuring components. The final models were produced in 1982.
The death blow to Checker was dealt with the economic crash in 2008,
Checker Motors CEO David Markin fell victim to the Ponzi scheme started and run by Bernie Madoff. David Markin's name appears five times on the official list of Madoff victims. One address on the list was 2016 North Pitcher Street, Kalamazoo, the same address as Checker Motors Corp.
Here is a video from shortly after the plants closing.
About a year after the plants closing it was destroyed by a fire. Below is a drone video of what remains now.
The Future of the Checker Motors Site
The property has since been bought by Graphic Packaging, who owns the neighboring facility, with plans for expansion. However, rumor has it that there are hundreds of gallons of hazardous materials, acids and other pollutants buried under the plant and the test track. This could make any expansion very dangerous and expensive.
Check out this video detailing the history of Checker Motors.