Ford Australia has sold its Broadmeadows car assembly line and Geelong engine and stamping plants for an undisclosed sum to the Melbourne-based Pelligra Group – the same company that also bought Holden’s factory in Adelaide late in 2017.
The three Ford manufacturing sites, which have been left idle since production ended in October 2016, will be sub-divided into technology parks and light industrial precincts in a move the property developer claims will initially deliver 2000 jobs and boost business opportunities in Geelong and Broadmeadows.
The sites will be renamed 'Fortek Geelong' and 'Assembly Broadmeadows' as a nod to their heritage, in the same way the property group renamed the Holden factory site 'Lion’s Gate', a reference to the lion in the Holden logo.
Geelong was the site of Ford’s first factory in Australia, opening in 1925, while Broadmeadows opened in 1959 ahead of the start of Falcon production in 1960. It was one of dozens of Ford factories around Australia but the last of its car assembly lines to survive.
The Pelligra Group says it has committed an initial $500 million to the new industrial areas.
“Through our investment in the area, we intend to help rejuvenate and grow the local community, and create industry leading hubs with world class innovation, engineering, and manufacturing on site,” Ross Pelligra, chairman of Pelligra Group, said in a media statement.
The property developer added it is “committed to ultimately delivering 4000−5000 jobs in the next five to 10 years, with the first manufacturing tenants anticipated to start work on site within a year”.
Ford is still in the process of decommissioning the sites, however the car giant will continue to pay for the land remediation process after the sale because, under environmental protection regulations, the clean-up remains the responsibility of the polluter.
Given how the properties will be divided, Ford will still retain a presence at both sites.
Ford is selling the stamping and casting plants in Geelong bordering Melbourne Road and North Shore Road, but will keep the smaller site behind them that houses a research and development centre.
At the larger Hume Highway site in Broadmeadows, Ford will keep the smaller “Plant Two”, which is adjacent to the former head office building that is now the Asia-Pacific base for the company’s design and engineering divisions, which employ 1600 people.
In a media statement Ford Australia president and CEO Kay Hart said: “Pelligra Group’s plans for the sites and appreciation for the significance of the sites’ histories to the local communities are key reasons it was selected as the purchase.”
Both sites occupy a combined area of 100 hectares, and include more than 265,000 square metres of factory floor.
Pelligra says it will “retrofit existing infrastructure” to accommodate manufacturing and technology businesses, with the first tenants “anticipated to be on site within a year”.