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The recent sale of a dozen empty lots in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood is wrapped in the kind of mystery that often hints a much larger land deal may be in play.

Of course, there is a potential major deal already in play in Corktown: Ford Motor Co. wants to create an urban campus where it will develop self-driving and electric vehicles, according to multiple sources familiar with ongoing talks. Part of that plan includes the possible purchase of the long-blighted Michigan Central Depot train station in the neighborhood.

That means even the sale of empty lots is fueling speculation of who is buying what and why.

The buyer of the vacant lots, which make up 12 separate addresses on the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Harrison and Cochrane streets, took steps to conceal its identity in public documents. The properties are one block northeast of the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Michigan Avenue, where Ford will soon house 220 members of its autonomous and electric-car teams in a facility it calls “The Factory.”

The dozen Harrison and Cochran street properties were sold in late April by representatives of a trust set up by Howard and Beverly Stone of West Bloomfield Township.

“My lawyer got approached out of the blue late last year,” said Howard Stone. “It was basically negotiations with another lawyer.”

Stone said his family had controlled the property for decades.

The buyer is identified as 20th Street Properties LLC. State documents list “The Corporation Company” as representing the firm. The Corporation Co. is a registered service agency, which is an office set up to accept legal notices and other official documents on behalf of another business.

Stone declined to provide details about the sale.

“I don’t want to ruin any other deals I’m hearing about,” said Stone, who declined to verify what other land sales he was talking about.

The sales price for the properties was left out of the deed.

Ford’s board of directors is expected to be told Thursday that talks continue to buy the former train depot, a source close to the situation said. That person said no deal is done, and no announcement is planned in connection with Ford’s annual shareholders meeting that day.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN

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