This came across my browsing this morning. Ford already had some plans for Corktown announced last year. This could be something quite awesome. What do you think?
Detroit is one of my favorite cities… on the planet.
From our friends over at Cranes Buisness journal (photos my own)
- Sources: Automaker in talks with Morouns’ Crown Enterprises over dilapidated Detroit building
- Ford has bought The Factory nearby to house about 200 employees
- Former train station has been empty for about three decades
Ford Motor Co. is in discussions to purchase the dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood just outside of downtown, Crain’s has learned from multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.
The exact status of negotiations is unknown. But two sources familiar with the matter said a deal for the Dearborn-based automaker to redevelop the 500,000-square-foot former train station off of Michigan Avenue owned for decades by the Moroun family could come as soon as next month.
If a deal comes to fruition, it would mark Ford’s biggest step back into the city where it was born, three months after announcing that it was going to put more than 200 employees just down Michigan Avenue in The Factory at Corktown building. A redeveloped train station could house more than 1,000 workers, depending on the layout.
“At this time, Ford is focused on locating our autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business and strategy teams, including Team Edison, to The Factory in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood,” Ford spokesman Said Deep said Monday in a statement to Crain’s. “While we anticipate our presence over time will grow as our (autonomous/electric vehicle) teams begin moving downtown in May, we have nothing further to announce at this time.”
A redevelopment of the depot, which has been abandoned and blighted for three decades since Amtrak stopped service in 1988, would be one of the most expensive and complex local undertakings in recent history, development experts familiar with the property have said in recent months.
Michael Samhat, president of the Morouns’ Warren-based Crown Enterprises, said there is not a deal imminent to redevelop the train station.
“We’re always working to bring an opportunity to the train station,” Samhat told Crain’s on Monday. “When we do get a serious entity looking at it, those are details we don’t share. At this time, we don’t have any deal to report.”
Samhat said the Morouns continue to meet with different groups interested in the building, which became a symbol of Detroit’s post-industrial decline in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
“Last week, we met with an entity — not Ford Motor — on the building,” Samhat said Saturday morning. “We’re not at a point to name an entity and say we’ve got a deal.”
Matthew Moroun, the son of billionaire transportation mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun, told Crain’s last year that he has broached the idea of Amtrak trains running through the old train depot with Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The opening night of the annual Detroit Homecoming event, produced by Crain’s, took place at the train station last year.
Steudle said he’s receptive to the idea and connecting the old train station to the central business district in the same way the QLine streetcar system connects the New Center area with downtown.
Last year, Samhat said the Moroun family had spent more than $8 million over the past five years abating the building, constructing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smokestack and installing 1,100 windows.
Crain’s contacted a Ford Land Development Co. spokeswoman for comment.
One source familiar with Ford’s pursuit of the train station said the move is aimed at building a workplace in an urban setting that can attract younger workers to the automaker.
Ford officials, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., have said talent attraction was a driving factor in the company buying The Factory building and embedding a team of employees focused on developing the business strategy for selling electric and autonomous vehicles of the future.
“Our young people love … living and working in urban areas,” Bill Ford Jr. said in January at the Detroit auto show.”
To see what it was like in its prime, check out these historic photos.