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Ford Allegedly Paid $90 Million for Michigan Central Station

The Corktown campus will span 1.2 million square feet, utilizing Michigan Central Station, the Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, and more.

When Ford Motor Company acquired the legendary Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood in June, one could only imagine how much the Dearborn-based automaker spent on it. The city’s property sales history page, however, has finally put an end to all speculation, confirming Ford paid the Moroun family $90 million for the abandoned, former Amtrak station, Crain’s Detroit reports

Ford is looking to garner around $239 million in local, state and federal incentives for its $740 million Corktown campus, which includes the former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository and various key structures and plots of land alongside Michigan Central Station. In case your math isn’t what it used to be, $90 million on a 600,000 square-feet property comes out to $150 per square foot. Clearly, Ford sees a vibrant future for production in the 104-year-old depot and its adjoining properties.

In terms of American automotive history, there’s no greater place than Detroit. While the Motor City had fallen into substantial disrepair, suffered greatly from the financial recession of 2008 and a colossal manufacturing decrease, AJ Weiner of Royal Oak, Michigan real estate agency JLL sees Ford’s investment here as a reaffirming sign of revival and positive things to come.

“The benefits to a user buyer don’t translate to what an investor buyer would see the benefit of,” he said, suggesting the exorbitant purchase price suggests Ford will use the property itself, which we’ve known to be true since Ford and its partners confirmed in June that the new hub would serve as center for autonomous and electric vehicle innovation. “That said, that’s a staggering amount of money, and it’s another validation of an ongoing recovery of a market that continues to amaze and impress.”

Ford expects to bring 5,000 jobs in autonomous and electric vehicle technology to the campus, with the Motown landmark building estimated to feature around 313,000 square feet of office space, 42,000 square feet of residential space across circa 40 units, 43,000 square feet of commercial space, and 60,000 square feet of event space. 

The former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, meanwhile, intends to provide 225,000 square feet of usable space in total, while a former brass factory included in Ford’s purchase is scheduled to be razed later this year to eventually become a 290,000-square-foot building with the bulk of that space being comprised of offices and labs. 

Ford’s purchase here is tremendously exciting for locals given the expected economic and employment surge. While it’s impressive to see the established American automaker invest so much money into the advancement of electric and autonomous vehicle technology, it’s the decision to centralize that endeavor in not only Detroit, but in the vastly iconographic and symbolic Michigan Central Station that really gives this news a heart. Amtrak service might have stopped there in 1988, and Detroit has certainly gone through more than enough struggle, but perhaps this recent purchase is another solidified stop on the road to recovery, with innovation, employment, and solutions ahead.