AKA: Ford Motor Company, Factory, Milpitas, CA; Great Mall of the Bay Area, Milpitas, CA

Structure Type: built works - industrial buildings - factories

Designers: Pomeroy, J.H., and Company, Structural Engineers (firm); John Henry Calvin Pomeroy (structural engineer)

Dates: constructed 1953-1955

total floor area: 1,414,000 sq. ft.

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447 Great Mall Drive
Great Mall of the Bay Area, Milpitas, CA 95035

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The Ford plant was located just northwest of the intersection of Great Mall Parkway/Capitol Avenue and Montague Expressway.


In the mid-1950s, Ford modernized its production facilities in Northern and Southern CA, building this new assembly plant in Milpitas, nearby to San Jose, in 1955 to replace its Richmond plant that opened on 08/01/1931. In Southern CA, Ford closed its Long Beach and Maywood facilities, the former opened at about the same time as the Richmond one, replacing both of them in 1956 with a new factory in Pico Rivera. (Ford also opened assembly facilities in Mahwah, NJ, and Louisville, KY in 1955.) According to a newspaper report of that year, "The over-all Ford expansion program includes 28 new manufacturing and assembly plants, 20 parts depots and 14 major engineering, research and office buildings." (See "Ford Motor Co. Has Invested $1,420,Million In New Plants," Ocala Star-Banner, 02/18/1955, p. 6.)

The Milpitas plant employed about 6,000 workers, and produced a variety of Mercury cars and Ford cars and F-series trucks from 05/17/1955 until 05/20/1983. The factory was located on a 160-acre tract. This huge facility was adaptively reused after 1994 as the Great Mall of the Bay Area Shopping Mall.

Building History

The Ford Milpitas Assembly facility was part of a large-scale modernization and scale increase of the company's manufacturing operations in the mid-1950s. Compared with the Depression-era factory in Richmond, the new plant near San Jose contained three times the space, all arrayed on one floor, maximizing flexibility in retooling assembly lines.

The assembly plant stood idle from 1983 until the early 1990s, when the Ford Motor Company's real estate investment arm, the Ford Motor Land Development Corporation, of Dearborn, MI, collaborated wth McLean, VA-based shopping center developer Petrie Dierman Kughn to rebuild the long-languishing property into a huge mall. A real estate investment trust, the Mills corporation of chevy Chase, MD, bought the mall property from Ford and Petrtie Dierman Kughn in 2003, and held it until it fell into bankruptcy in 2006. ("'...Possible misconduct by former accounting and asset management personnel of the company....'" created an accounting shortfall of $350 million for Mills in 2006. See Chicago Tribune.com, "Bankruptcy possible for Mills Corp. after errors," published 01/10/2007, accessed 11/15/2017.) The following year, Mills was purchased by two buyers, the Simon Property Group, the huge mall operator headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, and Farrallon Capital Management of San Francisco. Simon took over all of Mills's mall properties, including the Great Mall of the Bay Area.

Building Notes

As a shopping mall, the Great Mall of the Bay Area contained 1,361,920 square feet, In 2017, tenants of the Great Mall of the Bay Area included Sears Outlet, New York and Company Outlet, Old Navy, Foot Locker, Levi's Outlet Store at Great Mall, Cinemark 20 Great Mall, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Nike Factory Store, BevMo!, H & M, Bose Factory Store, Nine West, Marshalls, Victoria's Secret and Pink, Banana Republic, Burlington Coat Factory, Bounce-A-Rama, Zuemiez, Wells Fargo Bank, Forever 21, Justice, Camille La Vie. Restaurants and food vendors included the Ghirardelli Chocolate Outlet Shop, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Olive Garden Restaurant, Cinnabon, Subway, Jollibee, and Outback Steakhouse. As was typical of retail at this time, a sginificant number of retailers were discount outlets of larger merchandisers.


The Great Mall of the Bay Area underwent renovations in 2016.


PCAD id: 1619