RICHMOND, CA-Orton Development has closed on its acquisition of the historic Ford Assembly Building and hired BT Commercial Real Estate to begin finding tenants for the 500,000-sf waterfront building, which will be transformed into a mix of light industrial, office, retail and live-work space.Orton, a locally based redeveloper of large-scale corporate industrial and office properties, paid $5.4 million for the property, which is now known as Ford Point. The seller was the City of Richmond, with which Orton negotiated a disposition and development agreement. Two other parties tried but failed to close the deal prior to Orton getting its shot and making it count.Neither the buyer nor the seller were available for comment due to the holidays, but BT Commercial’s Gary Fracchia, one of the brokers with the leasing assignment, tells that the space should be ready for occupancy in the spring. “We have interest but there is nothing signed at this point,” says Fracchia, referring to potential lease deals.Built in 1930 for the Ford Motor Co., the building sits on approximately 26.5 acres and consists of a 304,000-sf first floor, a 161,000-sf second floor, a 5,000-sf boiler room and a 7,000-sf oil house for a combined floor area of approximately 477,000 sf. The Craneway, which lies over the San Francisco Bay, adds an additional 40,000 sf with the possibility of marine access. Fracchia says the live-work units, about 29 of them, will be developed first and soak up about 40,000 sf. The retail, planned for about 60,000 sf at the south end of the building, will be developed last. In between, Fracchia says Orton will build out about 250,000 sf of light industrial space and about 150,000 sf of research and development space. The property is surrounded by undeveloped lots on three sides and water on the fourth. Ford shut down the plant in 1955 in favor of a larger site in Milpitas, CA. The building was used for storage and research until the Loma Prieta earthquake rendered it unusable in 1989. It has been vacant ever since, though the city invested $14.2 million in a seismic retrofit. The deal with Orton is believed to include an opportunity for the city to share in rent revenue if it exceeds certain projections. Due to the holidays, a city official could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

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