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Wed Jun 13, 2018, 06:55 AM

As Ford buys Michigan Central Station, a look back at its former owner's track record

When you're an 104-year-old building, getting a new owner can mean many things, ranging from a new lease on life to a total teardown. But the news this morning that Ford Motor Company will become the new owner of Michigan Central Station was delivered with such fanfare, you almost begin to believe the hype, that better days await the 1914 beaux arts hulk.

The building has always attracted people's attention. It's a building from that awkward adolescence of the American skyscraper, when architects could build upward as never before, and yet hadn't developed the glass-and-steel modernism of, say, the 1950s. Out-of-towners are instinctively drawn to the building, including the official cultural historian of Chicago, Tim Samuelson, whom we once interviewed about the building's design.

Of course, the building has been closed since the late 1980s, and most of the people who've seen the interior have been trespassers. Since then, it's been in the sort of development limbo normally cultivated for buildings like Hudson's Department Store. Initially, city fathers had kicked around the idea of it being a trade center. As recently as 2003, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had a press conference announcing that the building would be the new headquarters of the Detroit Police Department.

But behind all the plans, proposals, and pressers, the Moroun family has owned the building since 1995. Given the building's strategic location next to the international train tunnels, it only made sense that the same family that owned the Ambassador Bridge would also acquire the property. A 2002 proposal to turn one of the rail tunnels to Canada behind the station into a trucking tunnel never got started; if it had, the builders might have had a hard time finding a staging area.

Read more: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/06/11/as-ford-buys-michigan-central-station-a-look-back-at-its-former-owners-track-record

Photo by Jerilyn Jordan
Michigan Central Station.

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