Robotics giant Fanuc Corp. is planning expand its operations in suburban Detroit with an $86 million expansion.
The Rochester Hills, Mich., U.S. headquarters of Oshina, Japan-based Fanuc purchased the former campus of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, Mich., in late July for $18 million, according to Joe Cvengros, vice president of manufacturing, operations and facilities at Fanuc America.
The property purchase included the 132,000-square-foot former law school building and an adjacent 67 acres on which Fanuc plans to construct a 655,000-square-foot plant for manufacturing, engineering and R&D.
In total, the new West Campus will span 788,000 square feet. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the fall with an expected completion by 2024.
The company plans to hire 100 workers as part of the expansion. It employs 1,200 in Michigan.
The expansion follows the company's completion of a 461,000-square-foot North Campus in Auburn Hills in October 2019. Since then, business has boomed for Fanuc, a major supplier of robots and other automation equipment.
The pace of automation accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as more manufacturers around the world looked to robots to fill the void left by the labor shortage. Warehousing, logistics and food and beverage have also been big growth areas.
"This investment in the future of US manufacturing will help Fanuc America meet the tremendous demand for automation solutions," Fanuc President and CEO Mike Cicco said in the release.
The project still needs approval from the city of Auburn Hills. It is unclear what state or local incentives the company might be requesting for the development.
The company declined to provide details on the incentives it is seeking but said the project is "fully supported by [Michigan economic development officials] and the city of Auburn Hills."
The former law school building will remain and be used as office, administrative, technical and training space for Fanuc, said Bruce Brickman, co-owner of General Development, the contractor that will oversee the project.
"They'll be able to reuse a lot of that," Brickman said. "It was designed as a law school building with auditoriums and lecture halls, and it needed the right fit."
The new building will have 32-foot clearances plus 10 dock doors.
"Fanuc being an international leader in corporate citizenry, General Development is pleased to be working with both Fanuc and the great city of Auburn Hills once again," Gary Weisman, fellow co-owner of General Development.
Fanuc has 1,500 employees in the U.S., according to its website.
The company took in a net income of $1.15 billion in 2021, up 65 percent from the previous year, on $5.4 billion of revenue, up 33 percent year over year, according to its earnings report.