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Ford wants to improve the site of former Ford Auditorium for auto show

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

DetroitA section of land near Hart Plaza, the site of the former Ford Auditorium, could get some sprucing up in time for the North American International Auto Show in June. 

Imagination Detroit, on behalf of Ford Motor Co., wants the city to let it make improvements to the site on Jefferson, just east of TCF Center, for auto show staging events and exhibitions.

The company would make improvements to the city-owned land in lieu of a user fee, officials said.

Ford Auditorium was torn down in 2011 and the site since then has been used for parking and storage. Ford Motor Co. is asking the city of Detroit for permission to improve the parking lot for Detroit auto show activities.

“These are simple site improvements that would allow for the ground surface to be used,” said Marcell Todd, director of the city planning commission. “It would also afford the opportunity for parking to be staged on the site in an orderly and more attractive manner when the space is not being used for events.”

The issue came before the Detroit City Council’s Planning and Economic Development committee Thursday. The committee voted to continue its discussion next week due to questions regarding how parking on the site would be managed after the auto show, which takes place June 9-20.

In 2018, auto show organizers announced the show would move from January to June, an effort to reinvent the show due to declining global automaker showings and guests. The shift is expected to expand the show to include outdoor debuts, test rides and off-road events at the TCF Center and Hart Plaza.

The site of the former Ford Auditorium is currently used for surface parking and event-related storage, and hasn’t seen any improvement since the auditorium was demolished in 2011, according to the city. 

The site plan calls for crushed concrete and drainage on the lower level of the site to make the space more accommodating for vehicular and pedestrian activities. It also includes tree removal and pavement replacement on the upper level closer to Jefferson. The planning commission has recommended a conditional approval as long as Ford replaces the trees, Todd said.

Discussion of improvements to Hart Plaza comes as the city gears up to market the site for development.

“This would allow for improvements to be made for an interim condition that would facilitate the use of the space for exhibitions and parking and the like in support of activities at Hart Plaza,” Todd said.

Twitter @CWilliams_DN