For weeks, the scuttlebutt has been that Ford is planning to scoop one of Detroit’s most adored ruins, Michigan Central Station. On Monday, Ford confirmed the purchase, and said the Blue Oval will adorn the property.
The owner of the train station, which operated until the 1980s before shuttering and falling into disrepair for three decades, announced the move in a press conference Monday.
From The Detroit Free Press:
Matthew Moroun announced at a 9 a.m. news conference from the depot on the west edge of Corktown that the iconic building had been sold to Ford. For weeks, it appeared as if Ford had purchased the 18-story building as part of its major expansion back into the heart of Detroit.
Ford’s invitation, which went out 29 minutes after Moroun’s announcement that the company’s Blue Oval would adorn the train station, provided scant details of its event next week.
Here’s that invitation, which Ford says marks the beginning of a “new era of innovation and mobility.” (Ford recently opened up an office in the Corktown neighborhood, which is just west of downtown Detroit, for its electric vehicle and autonomous driving units.)
In a way, this completes the remarkably easy rehabilitation of the building’s owner, the Moroun family, which owns the Ambassador Bridge that connects to Canada and has, until now, maintained a terrible reputation among residents in the city. Smart money says Ford is going to seek out a platter of tax incentives to facilitate this redevelopment, and in a state that’s eager to dole them out for large corporations looking to develop in Detroit, it’s almost certain the automaker will get what it wants.
Personally, I can’t help but feel conflicted about what this means for Corktown. I said it when we wrote about the train station last month: I thoroughly enjoyed living in the neighborhood before moving to New York City, and I always passed by the train station in awe. It’s a beautiful facility, and I’m anxious to see what it looks like when it’s done.
But it’s almost certain this’ll accelerate the transformation of Corktown from a working class neighborhood into something that more resembles the city’s downtown—a place for wealthy expats and newcomers to settle in. Left unimpeded, rents will likely continue to skyrocket and push out residents who’ve long lived in the area. Hopefully that’s something officials are taking into consideration as this development moves along.
Still, it’s remarkable this is happening. I don’t think anyone truly believed a rehab of Central Station was possible even six months ago. It’s wild.