Blue Light District? Ford Buys Michigan Central Station, Will Announce Plan on June 19th

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The long-abandoned — and recently reglazed — Michigan Central Station building will host a Ford sign and many Ford employees in the near future, the building’s longtime former owner claims.

Matthew Moroun, son of Detroit businessman Manuel “Matty” Moroun, told Crain’s Detroit Business on Monday that the family has sold the hulking, derelict building to Ford Motor Company as part of the automaker’s wide-ranging plan to take over much of the Corktown district.

“The deal is complete,” Moroun told Crain’s ahead of this morning’s announcement. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol for Detroit’s progress and its success.”

To some, this might sound a lot like the Ford-spurred fanfare that preceded the opening of the Renaissance Center back in the 1970s.

Moroun added that the Ford logo would adorn the 18-storey building, which opened in 1914 and closed its doors to travellers in 1988. Apparently, the Moroun family wants to focus its efforts on getting a new international bridge built. The transaction price remains a mystery, though Moroun did say the family and Ford entered into talks last October.

A schoolbook depository building adjacent to the depot also changed hands in this deal.

It was expected that Ford would make an announcement in early May, but that date came and went with no word on the building’s future. Now, Crain’s reports the Dearborn-based automaker will lay out its plans for the building — and surrounding area — on June 19th.

In recent months, reports arose that Ford was amassing a massive land claim in the area, just west of downtown, in the hopes of building a campus for its electric and self-driving vehicle efforts. The total floor area could cover 1.1 million square feet. Already, the automaker’s “Team Edison” has set up shop in a converted factory on Michigan Avenue, a stone’s throw away from the train station.

While the plan’s scope isn’t yet clear, getting the train depot and adjacent buildings ready for an influx of who-knows-how-many employees will take time and money. The Morouns sunk several million dollars into sealing up the station’s exterior and stripping it of asbestos, but the building remains a work in progress (and a must-visit attraction in America’s ruin porn mecca). The city will surely dangle tax breaks to lure the automaker back into its boundaries.

[Image: Wikimedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0)

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
5 of 31 comments
  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jun 11, 2018

    This ranks right up there with dumbest business moves ever.....Right behind hiring airplane guy and furniture guy.

  • Zipster Zipster on Jun 11, 2018

    Deadwood: I hope that it's just on this site that you manifest your cynicism. I get to Detroit about once a year and you probably get there more frequently (a member of the Detroit Institute of Art?) but I do see progress each time I go. I am impressed by the number of people I see in the downtown core on a Sunday morning. There are ever evolving pockets of progress in many areas of the city. If Detroit can keep attracting private capital, there is hope that it will find its equilibrium. albeit at a level much below what it was 60 years ago.

    • See 2 previous
    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jun 11, 2018

      @JohnTaurus You are phukking clueless and out of your element. GM's silver silos are pigs (that they bought from Ford by the way) that are a boondoggle of an investment (not to mention architectural, floorplan and energy consuming pigs) that GM has had to pour more money into than if they just built brand new buildings (which they would have been far better off doing). Have you ever stepped foot in any of the office buildings comprising the Renaissance Center, John?

  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.
  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?