Coincidentally, Pelligra Group also bought Adelaide’s redundant Holden factory in 2017, from General Motors.
Ford listed the three Victorian sites last September with a price expectation totalling about $75 million.
Targeted to commercial developers, the factories have been largely vacant since the last Australian Ford was produced: a blue XR6, on October 7, 2016.
The offerings cover a combined area of 100 hectares and include more than 265,000 square metres of factory floor.
Pelligra Group intends to retrofit existing infrastructure on the sites to accommodate technology and manufacturing parks.
It will also rebrand the factories: the Geelong holding will be called FORTEK while the Broadmeadows property, which is actually in Campbellfield, will become known as ASSEMBLY.
As part of the deal with Pelligra Group, Ford said it will retain ownership of land accommodating research, design, and engineering facilities at both Geelong and Broadmeadows properties.
Pelligra Group has committed to an initial $500 million for stage one of its proposed urban renewal project, its chairman, Ross Pelligra, said.
“Pelligra has a strong track record of projects that deliver jobs and rejuvenate communities,” Mr Pelligra said. “Our intention with FORTEK Geelong and ASSEMBLY Broadmeadows is the same; we are committed to ultimately delivering 4000 to 5000 jobs in the next five to 10 years, with the first manufacturing tenants anticipated to start work on site within a year”.
“FORTEK Geelong and ASSEMBLY Broadmeadows are significant historical manufacturing sites. 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”.
Australia doesn’t manufacture cars anymore following decisions by makers Ford, Holden and Toyota to cease production between 2016 and 2017.
The Geelong property was Ford’s first Australian headquarters and factory, opened in 1925.
Ford retains other property in Victoria including a proving ground in Little River, near the You Yangs.
The car maker said that some 1600 of Ford’s 2000-plus Australian workforce occupy space within the two sites Pelligra Group has bought, and at You Yangs.
In 2015, Ford moved its sales and marketing staff from Broadmeadows to Salta Properties’ Victoria Gardens shopping centre in Richmond.
“Ford will invest more than $500 million in 2019 into research and development in Australia, directly supporting its product development operations in Geelong, Lara and Broadmeadows,” Ford Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer Kay Hart said.
“Ford’s Geelong and Broadmeadows sites have played a central role in the history of Australia’s auto industry as centres of technical excellence, and have been part of the fabric of the local communities for generations”, Ms Hart said. “We are pleased that Pelligra Group will build on Ford’s ongoing engineering and design presence by adding new opportunities for innovation, ideas and business in Geelong and Broadmeadows”.
Based in East Keilor, Pelligra Group is a privately owned developer and investor which in recent years has acquired some high-profile sites.
Amongst them is the former Huntsman Chemical Corporation factory in Brooklyn, which it bought last September to replace with an industrial park.
With joint venture partner ResiCommercial, Pelligra Group last August paid more than $25 million for neighbouring Richmond properties including the former SEN radio station office. These assets, 471-479 Swan Street and 10 Belgravia Street, were offloaded by The Reject Shop co-founder Ron Hall.
Pelligra Group also owns 1500 Roxburgh, Empire Epping, John Darling Flourmill in Sunshine, the Sakata (Pepsico) factory in Laverton, an ex-Orica manufacturing site and the InterContintental Hotel Werribee.
In Brooklyn alone, it controls former Cleanaway landfills, the former Scotch Butter factory, and the Brooklyn Interchange.
Last month we reported Pelligra Group secured St John’s Ambulance as a tenant within the building that also acts as the developer’s headquarters, 16A Keilor Park Drive.
In South Australia, it acquired Holden’s former manufacturing plant in Elizabeth South. This 12 hectare property, now known as Lionsgate Elizabeth, is earmarked to become one of the country’s largest master-planned business parks.
It also controls an office in the Adelaide CBD’s Pirie Street.