Former Pugsley Prison Could Become Aerospace Command Center

Grand Traverse County leaders are starry-eyed about a new proposal for the future of a former correctional facility.

Grand Traverse Economic Development will be acquiring the old Pugsley Correctional Facility with plans to turn it into an aerospace facility.

In an email obtained by 9&10 News, they say the lot would become an aerospace command center “to foster an ecosystem of space technology.”

Details about the facility are limited and the plan has not been approved. Currently, county leaders, including Kingsley village manager Dan Hawkins, are giving feedback about the possibility.

Hawkins says he’s all for it if it can bring high paying jobs to the area, and add a different element to the local economy outside of tourism and agriculture.

“You’re going to see better pay rates, better pay scales, and better things happening,” said Hawkins. “As community leaders, it is our job to look at what’s best for the community and right now, you’ve got a barren hole is what [Pugsley currently] is. It’s just sitting there!”

Pugsley Correctional Facility used to house thousands of inmates and employ hundreds of people until it closed in 2016.

Initially, Inphastos said they’d take the property and turn it into a home construction operation, but they abruptly pulled out of the deal.

Grand Traverse County administrator Nate Alger hopes this time around, something can move forward at Pugsley.

“There’s been some ups and downs with camp Pugsley and it’s exciting to see that we may have an opportunity here to get somebody in there that could do well for the community,” said Alger.

The Michigan Aerospace Manufacturer’s Association is looking for tenants as part of their Commercial Satellite Launch Facilities Initiative. Early occupants could include ATLAS Operations, an aerospace pioneer based out of Traverse City.

There is no timeline on the proposal or the project. Hawkins says local leaders will continue discussions about the idea and eventually ask for the public’s opinion as well.