LATHROP – The last piece of glass rolled off of the line at the NSG-Pilkington float glass manufacturing plant in Lathrop back in January.
But could there be another use for 185-acre property that for more than 50 years produced automotive safety glass for some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world?
In a word, yes.
While Lathrop sent City Engineer Glen Gebhardt to Las Vegas to learn more about commercial options at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers annual convention, Gebhardt learned that there are three brokers interested in the industrial property – possibly to overhaul the Louise Avenue facing façade into some sort of commercial property and utilize the back recesses of the lot for its industrial purpose.
The property itself has been up for sale since April when a representative from DTZ – a high-powered global real-estate firm – confirmed that the San Francisco office would be overseeing and facilitating the possible sale of the complex to prospective buyers.
The property is actually comprised of separate parcels that will be combined for the sale. The facility opened as the Libbey-Owens-Ford glass plant in 1962 and made automotive glass products until New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. – the Fremont-based factory jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota – closed its doors in 2010.
The company is owned by Japan-based Nippon Sheet Glass and still bears the name of English company Pilkington which bought the facility from LOF – the company that introduced the world to the float glass manufacturing method which features molten glass that is floated atop molten metal to create perfectly flat sides and a perfect thickness.
One of the major contributing factors to its closure was a tightening of air quality standards by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District – it affected seven valley glass plants total – that would have required a $100 million overhaul for the installation of new equipment. Initially NSG said that they would move forward with the renovations, but those improvements never came. After five or six years of working with the district, and with a Jan. 1 deadline looming, the company announced it would be ceasing operations back in November.
Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said that he would make attempts at keeping the more than 100 head-of-household jobs in the community through political means, but 43 people were laid off back in March and a second round of layoffs was expected to take place last month. The final shipments of glass are expected to go out by August – effectively ending the plant’s 52-year run.
No additional information about the businesses interested or the overhauls that would be required to make them feasible as a commercial property was available.