Former Ford plant site’s remaining 182 acres sold after litigation settled

Ford’s former Wixom, Mich., plant produced some of the company’s classic car lines, such as Lincoln Continentals of the late 1950s and the Ford Thunderbird. Photo credit: FORD

A Cleveland-based company has purchased the remaining 182 acres of the Ford Motor Co. Wixom assembly plant site with plans for new development.

Industrial Commercial Properties LLC closed on the purchase from Boston-based investor Trident Barrow, which for more than a year was locked in a federal legal battle with Ford over the property.

The sprawling plant located northwest of Detroit opened in 1957 and closed in 2007. It produced some of Ford’s classic car lines, such as Lincoln Continentals of the late 1950s and the Ford Thunderbird.

Chris Salata, COO of Industrial Commercial Properties, said in a statement that the site “lends itself to many uses, including manufacturing, distribution and tech office,” and that it “can be ready for new construction in short order.”

Christopher Semarjian, owner of Industrial Commercial Properties, said in a Wednesday interview that the sale closed Tuesday. Semarjian did not disclose the purchase price. 

Trident Barrow and Ford also reached a settlement in their lawsuit, according to federal court records. Terms of the settlement were not revealed.

“We are open for business, whether there is a build-to-suit, a joint venture or straight out land sale,” Semarjian said Wednesday. “We are working with others and we are already talking to a couple other users and three other developers who have in-tow prospects.”

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He said the prospects include a 500,000-square-foot build-to-suit project; a 600,000- to 800,000-square-foot manufacturing facility; and a 150,000-square-foot steel fabrication project. He declined to reveal the users.

Among the work to be done is clean up “some of the debris left on the site” and removing the site pad, Semarjian said.

His company also owns former General Motors property in Pontiac at 2000 Centerpoint Parkway totaling 888,000 square feet, of which 359,000 is vacant, according to its website. In a joint venture with California-based Industrial Realty Group, Industrial Commercial Properties also owns 84 acres of land that used to be part of the American Axle & Manufacturing headquarters at I-75 and Holbrook.

The Wixom property is generally considered prime west Oakland County land in a growing area that once housed a 4.7 million-square-foot factory that employed as many as 5,500 people at its peak 45 years ago.

Brian Wilson, the head of Boston-based Barrow Development LLC, five years ago purchased about three-quarters of the sprawling 318-acre site at I-96 and Wixom Road to sell off after cleanup. For more than 18 months, his company had refused to sign documentation known as a restrictive covenant that could help free Ford from future environmental liability for the former factory that for 50 years employed tens of thousands of workers.

In March, a federal judge threw out Barrow’s motion for summary disposition of Ford’s lawsuit against it.

Several new developments have opened on the property, including a new Menards store, a headquarters and sales area for Wixom-based General RV and an At Home Goods Inc. store, plus a new Aldi Inc. store.

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