Corktown’s $148 Million Lightweight Metals Research Hub Could Create 10,000 Jobs in the Region

Corktown—a symbol of the Irish-American community in the United States and Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood that is best known for its abandoned Michigan Central Station, the bygone Tiger Stadium and the annual St. Patrick’s Parade—is slowly making a comeback.

Corktown—a symbol of the Irish-American community in the United States and Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood that is best known for its abandoned Michigan Central Station, the bygone Tiger Stadium and the annual St. Patrick’s Parade—is slowly making a comeback.

Corktown - ALMMII Headquarters rendering

Corktown – ALMMII Headquarters rendering

The long-time vacant plant on Rosa Parks Boulevard will get a new life as a manufacturing, research and technology center backed by the Obama administration. The 107,000-square-foot property whose last tenant was Mexican Industries, a local plastic auto-parts maker that filed for bankruptcy in 2001, will become the headquarters of the federally funded American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII). According to Detroit city officials, ALMMII is a public-private partnership founded by Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. Referred to as a “teaching factory” by the White House back in February when it was first announced, the institute is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) led by the Department of Defense and aims to implement innovations with lightweight metals into the commercial and military sectors that involve automobiles and aircrafts.

ALMMII was initially announced for the Haggerty II Corporate Park in Canton, but the site was leased by a German 3-D printing company called Voxeljet AG so the research institute had to identify other properties. Set to open in the fall at 1400 Rosa Parks Boulevard, the $148 million high-tech research institute is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the region over the next five years, most of which will be in stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that prevail in the Midwest region, The Detroit News reported. However, operations at ALMMII will start with a staff of ten and will eventually have around two dozen direct employees.

The 99,000-square-foot research building was designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux and is located directly across from Quicken Loans’ 66,000-square-foot tech center that is under construction. ALMMII will include offices, meeting rooms and training space, as well as lab spaces for developing and testing technologies for manufacturing. The institute will be funded by $70 million in federal grants over five years and another $78 million from the businesses involved in the consortium (leaders in the aluminum, titanium and high-strength steel manufacturing industries). The funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and $1 million from the nonprofit New Economy Initiative of Detroit.

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Rendering credits to Harley Ellis Devereaux Corp.