Ownership transfer points to Ford takeover of Detroit train depot

Announcement on empty Michigan Central Station expected in mid-June

There's more news about a possible move by Ford to acquire Michigan Central Station, the long-abandoned and heavily blighted train depot in Detroit, as part of a new urban campus for its electric and autonomous vehicle operations.

Ownership of the hulking 18-story building transferred last week from MCS Crown Land Development Co. LLC to a mysterious entity whose address is the New York law firm Phillips Lytle LLP, which has done legal work for the automaker. MCS also transferred ownership of a former Detroit Public Schools book depository building next to the train station to a separate entity with the same address. The news was first reported by Crain's Detroit Business.

None of the parties involved in the deed swap are commenting. Ford spokesman Said Deep passed a statement to Autoblog which reads, "We are very excited about our return to Detroit this year beginning with our electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle teams relocating to a historic former factory in Corktown. We expect to grow our presence in Detroit and will share more details in the future."

Ford last week began moving about 220 employees, including its Team Edison global EV team, into a refurbished hosiery factory in the historic Corktown neighborhood just a few blocks from the train depot.

But the news about the deed transfer is consistent with earlier reports that suggest that Ford is planning a mid-June announcement about the train depot. The automaker has also reportedly been negotiating to buy nearly 50 pieces of vacant land and buildings surrounding the depot for a new urban campus in Corktown, an area that has been a nexus of revitalization efforts in Detroit.

Ford sees a return to Detroit, where the company was born 113 years ago, as a key way to attract talent as it scrambles to build out its mobility operations and shore up its flagging stock price. It would add to a wave of high-profile companies, including Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Tata Technologies, a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, that have moved to, or plan to establish offices in, the central city, though it would also dwarf those moves. The train depot alone would have capacity to house thousands of employees, with redevelopment estimated to cost at least $300 million.

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