Updated: Ypsilanti's former Visteon plant sold by Ford-controlled ACH
Ypsilanti's former Visteon manufacturing plant - a 1-million-square-foot factory along I-94 - has been sold, officials confirmed this morning.
The buyer, Angstrom Capital Holdings LLC, is pursuing a redevelopment strategy, according to a spokeswoman for the seller.
According to documents filed with the state, that company is related to the Taylor-based Angstrom USA, a global manufacturer of tubular parts supplied primarily to the auto industry.
The deal follows a national marketing effort for the facility on 76 acres - formerly owned by Ford and Visteon - on behalf ofÂ Ford Motor Co.'s real estate division, real estate sources confirmed.
Della DiPietro, a spokeswoman for Automotive Components Holdings, a
Ford-controlled company that owns the site, said that ACH owned the property and Ford's real estate division assisted with the sale.
"We are very pleased that we’ve been able to sell the site, which paves the way for it to resume a productive use in the community," DiPietro said.
DiPietro said that ACH would demolish 250,000 square feet of the oldest buildings at the complex, parts of which date back to the 1880s. That will begin this month and be completed in early 2010.
Ford-controlled ACH was originally formed several years ago for the sole purpose of closing or selling 17 ex-Visteon Corp. operations by the end of 2008 - although the Saline and Milan plants continue to operate.
"Last year we determined that market interest in these facilities was very limited," DiPietro said of the Milan and Saline plants. Returning them to their manufacturing uses aided the Ford/ACH restructuring "and would improve the value for a future buyer."
In 2008, city records listed the state equalized value of the Ypsilanti property at $9,290,300, meaning the true cash value would be upwards of $18.4 million before the facility closed that year.
The listing price was $7.25 million, a price that translated to $7.24 per square foot.
Real estate sources said at least one offer of $3.5 million was written for the property. Information on the sales price was not available yet, but sources indicated that the purchase price likely ended up at close to $3 million.
The property includes 3,000 feet of frontage along I-94, just east of the Huron Street interchange into both downtown and an Ypsilanti Township business corridor to the south.
Parts of the manufacturing plant were built in the 1880s, although most of the existing site was constructed in the 1920s.
ACH shuttered the plant by late 2008 and all of the manufacturing equipment at the site has been removed.
The buyer, Angstrom, produces over 3 million parts per month, according to its Web site. It operates in the U.S., India and South Korea, supplying items like driveshaft tubes, stabilizer bars and highly engineered precision assemblies.
Company officials have been unavailable to say what the use for the Ypsilanti facility will be.
However, the company does plan some renovations to the property, said Brad Viergever, a commercial real estate broker for Signature Associates in Southfield who represented the buyer.
Given the upheaval in the automotive sector, the deal is a positive sign for ongoing manufacturing and engineering efforts in Washtenaw County, sources said.
"Obviously somebody’s interested in it," said David Cole, chairman of Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research. "They’re not going to put it on a wagon and haul it to the other side of the world. They’re going to use it here. That’s the good news."
The listing took years to reach a conclusion, starting as the automotive market contracted but before the national economic upheaval that contracted credit markets by fall 2008.
"In some way, shape or form, we've been actively in the market for selling this plant for four years," DiPetro said. "... This was clearly not a quick or an easy sale."
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said the city was not directly involved in negotiations associated with the deal. However, he welcomed news of the sale.
"It’s obviously going to be a smaller operation, but I think it’s good news that a company is buying the space and locating in Ypsilanti," Schreiber said. "I think it will help the image of Ypsilanti if we have somebody there and have a workforce there. I think it’s really good news."
The deal comes months after Ford, working with state economic development officials, struck a deal to reposition the massive abandoned Wixom Ford plant as an alternative energy park.
Michael Finney, CEO of economic development organization Ann Arbor SPARK, said he was encouraged that various parties are increasingly expressing interest in abandoned auto plants.
"If we stay focused in the state on repurposing existing facilities, I think we’re going to find that many of them have potential uses that haven’t been considered," Finney said.