Ford may build Corktown parking deck

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is considering building a new parking deck in Corktown on empty land near the former Tiger Stadium site, according to two sources familiar with the automaker's plan.  

Ford Motor Co. is considering building a parking deck on the empty Corktown lots near the Michigan Central Depot, which it purchased from the Moroun family this week.

The parking structure could be available to more than the Ford workers based at Michigan Central Depot and other Corktown buildings recently acquired by the car maker, sources said. The area is home to a growing number of hip restaurants, bars and small retailers. Parking and auto break-ins remain an issue. 

The parking garage is being considered for a four-block area bordered by the Fisher Freeway service drive to the north, Michigan Avenue to the south, Cochrane Street to the east and Rosa Parks Boulevard to the west. Most of the properties are empty land. 

The four-block area is partly next to the site of the former Tiger stadium that's now known as the Corner, where a baseball diamond remains along with the headquarters of the Detroit Police Athletic League youth sports organization. The empty properties are also near the building renamed The Factory, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard, where Ford relocated 220 workers last month. The Factory is five blocks northeast of the former train station.

On Monday, the Dearborn automaker confirmed it bought the 18-story, 500,000-square-foot train station in the heart of the neighborhood. Numerous sources have said the massive building will become the hub for Ford's self-driving and electric vehicle divisions.

The carmaker also confirmed it purchased a former book depository building at 2231 Dalzelle St. near the train station. Other Corktown properties are still in play, multiple sources have said.

At least 20 properties in the area being considered for the parking garage changed ownership hands from February through April 12, according to public records. The deals put the area under tighter ownership control. Neither the owner or sellers will say what is planned for the properties. 

Ford is not saying much about its plans. The company is throwing an event at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the train station, promising, "It will be a historic day for Detroit, the auto industry and the future of Ford  the start of a new era of innovation and mobility."

The former train depot has been out of use for 30 years. As it sat empty and decaying, it became one of  Detroit's most infamous blighted buildings. The depot has been vandalized and has deteriorated badly since the last train left the depot in 1988. 

Ford is considering keeping the cavernous, once-ornate lobby of the depot open to the public after it revives the vacant historic building, according to sources familiar with the plans.