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

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Image: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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)