Ford Chicago operations already include the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant and the Stamping Plant, but the automaker appears poised to expand its Chi-town footprint in the near future. The Blue Oval signed a lease for a new 359,000 square-foot building within a large industrial park in late 2019, said Tom George, vice president of acquisitions at NorthPoint Development, which is developing the property.
The new development, named Avenue O Industrial Park, will contain up to six buildings upon completion and is currently under construction at the site of the former Republic Steel factory, which is located a mere 1.5 miles from the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant. Ford will use the space to pre-assemble components before delivering them to the assembly plant.
Ford declined to comment on the new building, and there’s no word on how many people the new facility would employ, but the two existing Ford Chicago plants employ around 6,500 workers in total. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford invested $1 billion to modernize both the assembly and stamping parts of the facility.
The Chicago Assembly Plant is The Blue Oval’s oldest in continuous operation, having originally opened back in 1924. The plant currently assembles the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator and encompasses 113 acres and 2,813,260 square feet. Previously, the plant was used to assemble the discontinued Ford Taurus and Ford Police Interceptor Sedan, along with the fifth-generation Ford Explorer and Ford Police Interceptor Utility.
Avenue O Industrial Park consists of 2.3 million square feet of buildings over 196 acres, which makes it the largest industrial development to be built in Chicago since Ford’s 1.6 million square foot supplier park next door, which was constructed 16 years ago.
NorthPoint has invested $164 million of its own money to revamp the site, while the city of Chicago also chipped in with a $52 million tax-increment financing subsidy. The re-development of the property alone is expected to create 650 temporary construction jobs and 660 permanent jobs.