Residential development deal brewing in Corktown

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

An empty industrial building in Corktown is being considered for potentially one of the largest residential developments in the reborn neighborhood.

The building being eyed for the overhaul is an eight-story, 432,000-square-foot warehouse at 1448 Wabash St. near Bagley Avenue and Vermont Street. The warehouse is under contract to be sold and the prospective buyer is figuring out what it would take to convert the building into a large-scale residential development, said Michael Samhat, president of Crown Enterprises Inc., the current owners.

“This is a building with a lot of capacity that could have 150, 200 units,” Samhat said.

The facility, built in 1926, is near Ponyride, the nonprofit catering to business startups, and about one block from the Quicken Loans Technology Center at 1401 Rosa Parks Blvd.

The deal isn’t sealed, Samhat said, as the potential new owner is still doing its normal due diligence. The final decision is expected to be made around the end of January.

Samhat declined to name the potential buyer. He described the suitor as a “major local company that’s very capable.” He added the prospective buyer has also been involved in other “high profile” residential projects in the city.

Crown Enterprise is the real estate firm that represents the billionaire Moroun family, who own the Ambassador Bridge and the Michigan Central Station, the former train depot.

If the deal comes to fruition, the development could rival the $44 million development called Elton Park, located across the street from the former Tiger Stadium. That aims for 151 residential units, ranging from apartments to townhouse, and would span five blocks.

Corktown, on the southwest edge of downtown, is Detroit’s oldest neighborhood and for more than a decade now it has steadily attracted an influx of new residents and retail, including some of the city’s most popular restaurants.

Earlier this month, Ford Motor Co. announced it would set up part of its self-driving and electric vehicle operations in Corktown. The Dearborn-based automaker bought a historic building known as the Factory, at 1907 Michigan Ave., at the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard. It will house around 225 people from Ford’s self-driving and electrical vehicle operations. It will be Ford’s first facility within Detroit’s city limits in several years.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN