Driving a Hard Bargain for the Ford Motor Factory

The iconic building in downtown L.A. where everything from Model T's to Imperial Toys to American Apparel has been produced is being marketed for mixed-use development.

Image courtesy of CBRE Real Estate Services A rendering shows the potential to transform this industrial building into a chic live/work/play space, as has been done with so many other buildings in this part of downtown L.A. 

Someone will soon be writing a new chapter in the saga of one of the most storied buildings in Los Angeles: Downtown’s iconic Ford Motor Factory is now up for sale.

Built in 1914 to produce Model T's, this was the second Ford Motor plant west of the Mississippi. The celebrated cars were manufactured here until the late 1920s, and since then the building has housed U.S. Rubber, Lockheed Aircraft, Bullocks and the Imperial Toy Company, just to name a few.

Until a few months ago, American Apparel was using it, before the L.A.-based clothing company consolidated all its manufacturing and other interests into its headquarters just one block east.

What’s up next for the 300,542-square-foot, poured-concrete-and-block building will be decided by the new owners. This is reported to be the last remaining large redevelopment prospect in the area, which is rapidly becoming gentrified with loft apartments and offices, restaurants and chic stores.

That’s exactly what the sellers have in mind for the Ford Motor Company building. Brandon Gill of CBRE, who represents the property, says he foresees the building becoming a mixed-use space, with “creative offices, eclectic restaurants, retail and/or residential units to meet the growing demand in the area. It has great potential,” says Gill.

The building’s 150 parking spaces alone, which could be expanded, are invaluable in this neck of the woods.

With frontage on East Seventh Street, South Santa Fe Avenue and Violet Street, the building is right on the edge of downtown’s trendy Arts District. It’s within easy walking distance of some of L.A.’s most popular eateries and drinking establishments, like Bestia, Church & State, The Pour House, the Bread Lounge and Urban Radish.

The current owners are asking $45 million, or about $150 per square foot. “That may sound high for downtown, but it’s right in line with the new market there,” says Gill. He reports that already, more than 40 groups have visited the property, and many will be likely to bid at the auction, to be held on Oct. 3.

We’ll keep you posted on who ends up with this prized real estate, and what they intend to do with it. In the meantime, find out more about it at the building’s website.    

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