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Ford factory sites up for grabs

Going, going: Ford Australia’s Geelong factory site where the company started producing cars and components in the 1920s is going up for sale, along with Ford’s Campbellfield factory.

Historic Ford factory sale creates 85ha land rush in Victoria

Ford logo26 Sep 2018

REAL estate agents handling the sale of Ford Australia’s former factory sites at Campbellfield and Geelong in Victoria say they are expecting strong interest from Australian and overseas investors looking to buy the 85 hectares of industrial land.
 
Potential buyers will have only next month to submit expressions of interest in the properties that have been stripped of Ford manufacturing equipment, audited for potential environmental hazards and rehabilitated since the company closed its local manufacturing operations two years ago.
 
The property sale brings to close a major chapter of Australia’s automotive manufacturing history, with Ford joining Holden in unloading its industrial sites where millions of cars and components – including engines – were built over decades.
 
The Ford sites – thought to be collectively worth about $75 million – are being offered in three parcels with intact factory buildings covering 26.5ha.
 
These buildings include Ford’s original factory with its heritage-listed art deco façade at Geelong – arguably the home of the Australian motor industry.
 
Built in 1926 on the Princes Highway at the northern Geelong suburb of Norlane, the factory replaced a temporary facility in a disused wool store that turned out T-Model Fords from kits shipped from Ford of Canada from 1925.
 
The Geelong site will be offered in two lots – one facing Princes Highway and another on Seabeach Parade. 
 
Ford has retained part of the site for workshops supporting the Asia Pacific Product Development Centre engineering effort responsible for a number of Ford vehicles, including the global Ford Ranger and Everest.
 
At Campbellfield, on Melbourne’s northern fringe, the company has retained a bigger slice of its former Broadmeadows factory site that was bought by Ford in 1956 in readiness to produce the first Australian Ford Falcon in 1960.
 
Ford Australia has retained its former head office, now remodelled to house about 300 engineers and support staff for the vehicle development program.
 
As well, it has kept the recently refurbished design centre and other facilities associated with the engineering program that employs about 1500 people in all.
 
Just up the road, Ford’s biggest parts warehouse will also remain a fixture in Campbellfield.
 
The rest of the huge site on Sydney Road is set to go in a sale of land described by real estate agent CBRE as “iconic”.
 
The company says the Campbellfield and Geelong sites can be bought in one line or as three separate lots – two in Geelong and one in Campbellfield. If preferred, the Campbellfield site can also be broken into two.
 
CBRE agent Dean Hunt said the proximity of the Ford sites to key infrastructure was part of the allure to potential buyers.
 
“These properties offer highway exposure and benefit from access to major arterials, public transport links and proximity to key infrastructure such as Melbourne International Airport, Avalon Airport and the Port of Geelong,” he said.  
 
“The existing buildings could be repositioned to accommodate multiple tenancies, generate income and support numerous development initiatives, complemented by the neighbouring residential, retail, industrial, commercial and entertainment facilities.”
 
Mr Hunt indicated a shortage of vacant industrial space in Melbourne’s north would make the property attractive.
 
When Ford announced its withdrawal from Australian manufacturing in 2016, executives said they expected the decommissioning process at the factories to take about two years, with a sale possible in “2019-ish”. That process appears to be on track.
 
Holden’s former factory at Fishermans Bend, in Melbourne, was recently demolished to make way for a tech park promoted by the Victoria government.
 
That 37.7ha site, where the first Australian Holden rolled off the production line in 1948, was sold to the government for $135 million in 2016.
 
Holden’s Elizabeth factory, north of Adelaide, was sold to property development company Pelligra Group late last year for an undisclosed sum.
 
Once decommissioning work is complete there next year, the site will be turned into a business park called Lionsgate – a nod to the Holden lion logo.

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