Louis Aguilar The Detroit News
Published 7:43 AM EST Nov 13, 2018
Detroit — The billionaire family who sold the former train station to Ford Motor Co. has sold another large vacant Corktown building to an entity tied to a controversial land owner, Dennis Kefallinos.
The latest property sold is an eight-story, 432,000-square-foot former cold-storage warehouse at 1448 Wabash. The massive building is three blocks southeast of Michigan Central Station, which Ford bought from a Moroun-controlled entity for $90 million in May. The Wabash building was sold in late September to an entity linked to Kefallinos for an undisclosed price, according to public records.
Kefallinos is a long-time Detroit developer whose current properties include the Russell Industrial Center, a sprawling factory complex the city tried to shut down last year due to multiple building and fire code violations. The sprawling complex was home to artists studios and work spaces. Some of the tenants lobbied the city to keep the Russell center open after Kefallinos agreed to pay stiff fines and do repairs to the facility.
Various entities linked to Kefallinos have owned dozens of Detroit properties over the years, including many that have sat empty. That includes the former Wayne State University Shapero Hall in Lafayette Park. The building was sold last year.
Another long-time empty property is the former Roosevelt Hotel in the shadow of Michigan Central Station. That building is one of 30 properties Kefallinos put up for sale last year.
Representatives for the Morouns were unavailable for comment Tuesday. Manuel Moroun and his son Matthew Moroun own the Ambassador Bridge — which connects U.S and Canada — and trucking and logistics firms based in the U.S. and internationally. The Morouns also own a considerable amount of Detroit property through various entities.
The Wabash facility, commonly called the “cold-storage building,” is near Ponyride, the nonprofit catering to business startups. Also nearby is the Quicken Loans Technology Center at 1401 Rosa Parks.
Last May, the Morouns sold Michigan Central Station to Ford for $90 million. The Morouns also sold to Ford another nearby empty building — a former book depository building — for $8 million.The former train station will be the “centerpiece” of Ford’s planned 1.2-million-square-foot Corktown campus for its electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle divisions.
Ford is seeking nearly $239 million in local, state and federal incentives for its planned $740 million campus in Corktown on the southwest edge of downtown Detroit. Ford expects to start renovating the former train station by the end of the year. The automaker will work with design firm Quinn Evans Architects and architects at Christman-Brinker on the project expected to be completed some time in 2022.
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