There’s been much made about Ford’s secret/not-so-secret plan to purchase a major chunk of Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, including its greatest landmark — the monstrous, long-abandoned Michigan Central Station. Until now, however, the only words we had to go on were whispered by sources who preferred to keep their names out of the media.
Thankfully, Edsel B. Ford II decided to pipe up today.
Questioned by media at an event, Henry Ford’s great-grandson, who sits on the Ford Motor Company board of directors, confirmed that the automaker is considering purchasing the 18-storey monolith.
The board “has been briefed” on the purchase plan, he said. Ford’s comments featured in a tweet by Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Chad Livengood.
A discussion of the plan, as well as a potential vote, could come as early as a board meeting scheduled for next week, Ford added. That jibes with the date listed in a recent report from Crain’s, in which the publication detailed the automaker’s attempts to buy up land in the area near the station. The property amassed could total more than 1.1 million square feet.
The station itself, which last saw a train pull away in 1988, contains roughly half a million square feet of floor space. As anyone with internet access knows, it isn’t in the best state of repair (see recent photos here). The Moroun family, longtime owners of the property, only recently installed glass in the building’s windows. As of last year, the figure floated for what it would cost to complete the renovations stood at $100 million.
It’s likely Ford would get a lucrative helping hand from the city of Detroit were it to snatch the property away from the Morouns.
Acording to multiple media reports, it’s believed Ford wants this property, and those surrounding it, to house employees working on the next phase of motorized transport. “City of Tomorrow” kind of stuff. Known as Auto 2.0, the effort loosely groups together teams working on autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing, and other mobility efforts.
What isn’t known is whether Ford’s planned campus, seen as a hub for all things futuristic, will serve as a satellite locale or something larger.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)]