There’s going to be new life for the old Southwestern High School built in 1924, which was recently closed in 2012 due to budget cuts.

Sakthi Automotive will purchase and will redevelop Southwestern High School, enabling the company to build out an approximately 650-employee manufacturing campus and a training center for new engineers.

Sakthi is a Tier one automotive supplier.

Map of the new Sakthi former Southwestern High School campus
Map of the new Sakthi former Southwestern High School campus

Sakthi is putting $31 million into the facility, and the expansion means that lightweight metal auto components currently produced in China will be manufactured by workers in newly-created jobs here in Detroit.

The development is being made possible thanks to a deal between Sakthi, its partner, ProVisions, and the Detroit Public Schools to purchase the vacant high school building and turn it into a training center for high-tech manufacturing jobs. The Michigan Strategic Fund committed $3.5 million to Sakthi Automotive. The commitment will support employment and business growth for this project.

“This project is a prime example of how cooperation between the State, the City, Detroit Public Schools, and the private sector can help create jobs and preserve our city’s heritage,” said Mayor Duggan.  “Sakthi is making a major commitment to Detroit and is creating employment opportunities for our residents that otherwise would have remained overseas.”


Here’s how the project will break down:

Sakthi will maintain its current 170 jobs at its facility (formerly Arvin Meritor) on Fort Street at Waterman.

The manufacturing expansion already underway to the west on American Way Street is currently adding 150 new jobs.

The redevelopment of Southwestern High School and its campus will create an estimated 220 new jobs by 2021.  Seventy of those jobs will be contained inside the historic portion of the school, which will be used for offices, training and warehousing. The other 150 jobs will be spread across a newly-constructed 100,000-square-foot lightweight metal advanced casting facility and a 10,000-square-foot benchmarking/testing facility that will be housed in the school gymnasium.

While newer, 1940s-era portions of the high school will be removed as part of the development, the original historic structure facing Fort Street, as well as the gymnasium, will be redeveloped. As part of the project, Sakthi plans to incorporate much of the gymnasium floor, where NBA stars Jalen Rose, Howard Eisley, and Voshon Lenard once played, and other elements into its design.

The former GM building to the east of the Sakthi headquarters will be put to use as an advanced distribution and manufacturing center, creating 100 new jobs.


The approximately 70-acre Sakthi Manufacturing Campus will contain an estimated 1.2 million square feet of space across four facilities.

Sakthi recently entered into purchase agreements for the old GM Fisher Body plant, just east of its main building on Fort Street and the former American Mailers building to the west, to house its expanded manufacturing operations.

“Sakthi is trying to build this community along with our business expansion.  This is what we do everywhere we have business operations,” said Sakthi Group Chairman Dr. Manickam Mahalingam.

The job expansion created by this development is intended to create opportunity for Detroit residents, with a focus on second chances, which are returning citizens who are attempting to rebuild their lives after serving time in prison.

If you’d like to work at the new facility, email humanresources@sakthiautousa.comConstruction will start immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.

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