Detroit Airports To House 6,000-Acre Automotive Hub

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The last undeveloped industrial space in the greater MoTown area.

Residential real estate in and around Detroit may be dirt-cheap at present, but industrial manufacturing space is at a premium. That makes expansion difficult for automakers and the enormous pool of parts suppliers on which they rely. But one company is working on a solution.

Automotive News reports that the Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation is working to repurpose land around two local airports into space for industrial applications. Some 6,000 acres, to be specific, or the equivalent of three or four major automotive assembly plants. And that could be a real game-changer for the automotive industry in southeastern Michigan.

The site is based on largely unused, privately owned land around two airports – Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run – both located in between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. And equally important as the vacancy is the extensive surrounding infrastructure. Along with the airports themselves, three interstate highways and five Class A rail lines pass near the site. And there's a new automotive test facility nearby as well.

The American Center for Mobility, opened just last year, includes testing facilities for autonomous and connected vehicles on some 500 acres, and has attracted numerous OEMs and suppliers to the area.

Subaru is building a new 60,000-square-foot, $48-million technical center there. FCA's Mopar division recently announced a new $10-million, 500,000-square-foot distribution center there as well. And suppliers Brose and Piston Group are opening new facilities in the area too, worth $105m and $17m, respectively.

"As the auto industry expands, companies are running out of available options in southeast Michigan," Robert Luce, the outgoing executive director of the development group, told AN. "The aerotropolis is that one unique location within the broader Detroit area that has a large swath of land available for industrial development. There's very limited land availability anywhere else in southeast Michigan."


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