DETROIT -- The dilapidated Michigan Central Depot in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood -- which Ford Motor Co. plans to transform into a campus dedicated to electrified and autonomous vehicles -- was purchased by the automaker for $90 million, according to government records.
The disclosure on the city's property sales history page puts an end to months of speculation about how much the automaker ponied up to the Moroun family for the vacant building off Michigan Avenue.
A purchase price of $90 million puts the purchase price at $150 per square foot for the 600,000-square-foot depot, which has long been seen as emblematic of a city that decayed over decades.
In comparison, General Motors in 1996 purchased its Renaissance Center headquarters -- a couple of miles from the train depot -- for $75 million. GM's total cost after renovations were done in 2008 was $626 million.
Dennis Bernard, founder of Bernard Financial Group, a prominent commercial real estate finance company, was surprised by the cost.
"DAMN!!!!!," he said in an email to Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Ford finalized the depot purchase May 22, according to public records. The company is seeking nearly $239 million in local, state and federal incentives for its planned $740 million campus in the Corktown neighborhood west of downtown, with the train station as the focal point of the 1.2 million-square-foot project that is expected to bring 5,000 autonomous and electric vehicle technology workers to the area.
The company's new Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC subsidiary will be based primarily at the campus.
The 104-year-old depot is expected to be turned into about 313,000 square feet of office space, about 42,000 square feet of residential space spread across 40 or so units, 43,000 square feet of commercial space and 60,000 square feet of event space.
A nearby former Detroit Public Schools book depository is expected to be transformed into 205,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
A former brass factory is set to be leveled starting later this year. What will rise in its stead is expected to be a 290,000-square-foot building with 247,500 square feet of office/lab space along with 42,250 square feet of commercial space.