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SAN FRANCISCO-Orton Development of Emeryville has landed a major tenant for the historic Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant in Richmond, a 520,000-sf building it has converted into a multi-tenant property. PowerLight, a Berkeley-based subsidiary of publicly held SunPower Corp. of San Jose, has leased 175,000 sf at the plant that will serve as its new headquarters and research facility.

Located in a redevelopment area, the Ford facility was built in the 1930s and was the largest assembly plant on the West Coast. A “daylight factory” design by Albert Kahn, it was converted for military-related production during World War II. Orton acquired the building in 2004 from the City of Richmond Redevelopment Agency.

PowerLight’s move is scheduled for the end of the year. Previously signed tenants include Mountain Hardware, Best Line, Title 9 Sports and Vetrazzo. The site also will also house the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front Historic Park Visitor Center.

Current availability at the Ford Plant could not immediately be obtained. Troy Peterson, who heads up the Ford Point project for Orton, did not respond to a request for comment. According to one published report, the company expects to have the plant 80% leased by the end of the year.

SunPower Corp. designs, manufactures and markets high-performance solar electric technology worldwide. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of publicly held Cypress Semiconductor Corp. PowerLight sells large-scale solar power Systems.

PowerLight currently occupies 27,000 sf in Berkeley. The Ford Point deal was brokered by NAI BT Commercial and CM Realty.

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