Ford pursues deal to buy, redevelop Detroit's Michigan Central Station

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Ford pursues deal to buy, redevelop Detroit's Michigan Central Station
Posted by 081552 on Monday, March 19, 2018 4:32 PM

Ford pursues deal to buy, redevelop Detroit's Michigan Central Station, report says

The 104-year-old Michigan Central Station has sat vacant since 1988. Numerous efforts to redevelop the hulking Detroit landmark owned by the Moroun family have failed to come to fruition over the years. Photo credit: Chad Livengood/Crain's Detroit Business
 

UPDATED: 3/19/18 3:21 pm ET - adds Ford statement

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is in discussions to purchase the dilapidated Michigan Central Station in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood just outside of downtown, Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, 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 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 Detroit Business. "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.

No deal imminent

Michael Samhat, president of the Moroun's Crown Enterprises unit, said there is not a deal imminent to redevelop the train station.

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"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, was held 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 connects the New Center area with downtown.

Abatement efforts

Last year, Samhat said the Moroun family has 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.

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 company officials, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., have said talent attraction was a driving factor in Ford 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.

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 4:32 PM

Sounds like a good idea if Ford does buy the station. And if the streetcar extends down Michigan avenue, so much the better. The tracks are still there but paved over. They have worked thier way to the surface in places. 

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:51 AM

If i worked for Ford Motor Company in say Dearborn and it was announced that my job was moving to downtown Detroit, I'd be looking for a new job.  No way I would work there after hearing the horror stories from those who do work downtown.  Like armed guards accompanying workers to their cars in the parking garage.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:34 PM

runnerdude48
If i worked for Ford Motor Company in say Dearborn and it was announced that my job was moving to downtown Detroit, I'd be looking for a new job.  No way I would work there after hearing the horror stories from those who do work downtown.  Like armed guards accompanying workers to their cars in the parking garage.

 I worked at GM's old Headquarters in the New Center Area for 3.5 years in the early 1990's and never had an armed guard to take me to the parking lot.    Thankfully attitudes in Michigan are starting to change.......why not jump on the band wagon and be an agent of change? 

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Posted by 54light15 on Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:28 PM

I agree with that. Detroit is turning around; the central business district is coming along. I was impressed the last time I was there last July with new construction and the Woodward streetcar. Hey, you could be in Windsor, Ontario which is boring beyond belief (Sarnia is worse.) Detroit is not boring, that's for sure. 

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, March 23, 2018 1:52 PM

If there's any interest, the 'new station' was described and illustrated in Railway Age Gazette, Jan. 9, 1914. https://archive.org/stream/railwayage56newy#page/73/mode/1up

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, March 23, 2018 2:54 PM

Just as long as someone (anyone) buys it from the Marouns.  They are nothing but slumlord billionaires who use (and use up) anyone and anything that they come in contact with. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, March 23, 2018 6:07 PM

Backshop

Just as long as someone (anyone) buys it from the Marouns.  They are nothing but slumlord billionaires who use (and use up) anyone and anything that they come in contact with. 

Agree and they are also one of the main inhibitors to Detroits rebirth as a new modern city.    I hope Canada breaks their bridge / tunnel monopoly and significantly undercuts them on tolls.

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Posted by JoeBlow on Saturday, March 24, 2018 4:46 AM

Ford is interested in buying and rehabing the building?

This might be a money pit of unheard proportions - 3 decades of deferred maintenance, probable asbestos, damage from people, etc.

This idea seems to have the finger prints of Bill Ford all over it.  

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, March 24, 2018 6:50 AM

The station is also a fair distance from downtown Detroit, which may be one of the reasons that developers have shied away from it.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, March 24, 2018 9:30 AM

The Fords, GM and the Illitches (among others) are constantly expanding the footprint of the "cool" areas of Detroit.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, March 24, 2018 5:04 PM

Backshop

The Fords, GM and the Illitches (among others) are constantly expanding the footprint of the "cool" areas of Detroit.

Well there was a brief period in the 1980's and 1990's where everyone got tired of Mayor Coleman Young's racial vitrol and suspended most investments in Detroit.   They resumed once it became clear the corruption in City Hall was in the decline.

The Ford Family built the Renaissance Center in 1975 in a bid to bring back Detroit, two decades later GM moved it's HQ there.    GM had jazzed up the New Center area before that.   Ford Family has spent a lot on the Detroit Metro area, they got burned a few times but they are still at it.

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Posted by BOB WITHORN on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 7:39 AM
The property is being transferred to a 'holding'/law firm company? in New York that has done a lot of work for the Fords. FMC is planning to locate all of their electric & auto drive employees to Corktown area. "Future Tech" or something like that, will all be there. Suppose they will extend the new light rail around the corner?? DO NOT knock Detroit if you haven't been there in the past couple years!! IT IS NOT THE SAME Detroit.
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Posted by RDG467 on Friday, June 29, 2018 11:13 AM

Bob, can I knock Detroit if I've *NEVER* been there??  Stick out tongue

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, June 29, 2018 3:18 PM

BOB WITHORN
The property is being transferred to a 'holding'/law firm company? in New York that has done a lot of work for the Fords. FMC is planning to locate all of their electric & auto drive employees to Corktown area. "Future Tech" or something like that, will all be there. Suppose they will extend the new light rail around the corner?? DO NOT knock Detroit if you haven't been there in the past couple years!! IT IS NOT THE SAME Detroit.

Is it the same old Michigan with I-69, I-75 and I-94 still falling apart?

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, June 29, 2018 4:16 PM

Yeah.  That's what happens when you have hundreds of 160,000 GVW gravel trains driving on them.

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Friday, June 29, 2018 4:49 PM

This station like Buffalo Central Terminal is in a bad location. So was Cincy and walking to it from downtown  makes me want to have a CC Licence

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, June 29, 2018 8:48 PM

Backshop

Yeah.  That's what happens when you have hundreds of 160,000 GVW gravel trains driving on them.

 

Had forgotten about that truck weight limit.

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