Nissan North America plans to build a new 120,000-square-foot crash test facility at its 49-acre Nissan Technical Center campus, 39001 Sunrise Drive, in Farmington Hills.

Nissan North America plans to build a new 120,000-square-foot crash test facility at its 49-acre Nissan Technical Center campus, 39001 Sunrise Drive, in Farmington Hills.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Nissan to build new crash test facility in Farmington Hills

50% tax abatement approved for new facility last April

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published February 24, 2020


FARMINGTON HILLS — Nearly a year ago, in April 2019, Nissan Technical Center representatives approached Farmington Hills City Council members seeking approval of a tax abatement for a potential new crash test facility to be built on their current headquarters in the city.

City Council members voted unanimously at the time to approve a 50% tax abatement for a period of six years for the car company if it were to be built in the city. Despite the approval, though, a Nissan spokesperson told C & G Newspapers then that the company was considering multiple locations. Farmington Hills was one of many options.

A tax abatement allows a property owner to pay a portion — in this case 50% — of the real property taxes assessed for the development for an assigned number of years — six years in this case. The abatement will kick in once Nissan has completed construction of the facility.

According to state requirements, the construction of the development must be completed within two years of when the company starts.

Now, 10 months later, the company has officially decided to build upon its already $270 million investment in the city that started in 1991 by preparing to build the approximately $40 million crash test site on its Farmington Hills campus.

“Nissan looks forward to building a new vehicle test center at our R&D center in the Detroit area, which serves as our R&D headquarters for all of North America. We continue to finalize details regarding the project. We will share details when available,” Nissan Corporate Communications Acting Director Chris Keeffe said in a statement.

The proposed facility will expand upon Nissan’s current campus at 39001 Sunrise Drive. Senior Manager of Safety Engineering for Nissan Technical Center Mike Bristol told council members in April that the new expansion would include a 120,000-square-foot building and additional parking on their roughly 49-acre site.

He said the investment will add 25 new full-time jobs to the company and will retain 60 jobs currently on site.

Adding to Bristol’s comment’s, Director of Safety Engineering Darryl Stolarczyk told council members that the crash test facility would be Nissan’s largest research and development investment in the United States, solidifying their Farmington Hills’ campus as the company’s research and development hub for North American operations.

The company’s investment won’t only help Nissan, said Farmington Hills Economic Development Director Samantha Seimer, but also the city’s economy.

Despite the 50% abatement, the city’s will see growth in tax revenue of approximately $400,000 for the life of the abatement, Seimer said. After the six-year abatement period ends, that tax revenue will increase to roughly $800,000.

“There’s a couple schools of thought on tax abatements. Some people choose to look at it as you’re giving up taxes, where I choose to look at it as 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing,” she said, adding that the goal of the abatement was to provide an incentive in Nissan’s final decision. “This project could have not even happened in Michigan. We’re trying to stay as competitive as possible. We know we’re a great place to locate your business, but sometimes it takes that next step.”

Nissan’s investment will stimulate the city’s economy in more indirect ways, as well, through the creation of new jobs and new consumers within the city.

“It bolsters the local economy because it trickles down into where employees go to eat or where they decide to move their families,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to this investment and gaining some more employees in the city.”

Nissan Technical Center currently employs roughly 1,300 people.

Overall, Seimer is excited to see the development moving toward fruition, saying it solidifies Nissan’s previous promise to continue to invest in the Farmington Hills community.

“We are thrilled they’re able to continue investing,” she said. “We’re happy to be their North American headquarters for research and development. … They’re here to stay, as far as I can see.”