Historic Ford Plant in Highland Park to Become Automobile Heritage Destination
- Jul 25, 2013
By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
It finally happened: after years of fighting the massive loss of population and industrial and economic distress, Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Most voices agree that it was bound to happen, but it remains to be seen how this historic decision will help the city regain its lost glory.
While analysts predict that it will take years until Motown figures out its unprecedented $18.5 million in debt, some local entrepreneurs such as Quicken Loans’ chairman and founder Dan Gilbert, who has been on a property buying spree for the past two years, are working on plans to revive the city and (fingers crossed) make it a destination for tourists and car enthusiasts.
The historic Highland Park Ford Plant, an automotive factory complex built in 1910 under plans designed by Albert Kahn—and the spot where Henry Ford set up his famous moving assembly line—could be reinvented as a visitor attraction. According to Automotive News, a non-profit group called the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) has signed a purchase agreement with National Equity Corporation, which owns the manufacturing complex, to acquire two buildings totaling 48,000 square feet and transform them into an automobile heritage welcome center. Reportedly, the group has already received $425,000 in grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Corporation in addition to tapping its own reserves, but it still needs to raise another $125,000 to pay for the pair of buildings located at 91 Manchester Avenue at Woodward.
According to the source, the transaction should close by October 1. WA3 estimates that the two renovated buildings will open in five years and will feature a theater with videos about Henry Ford and his work, information kiosks, and a gift and snack shop.
WA3 was organized in 1994 as an economic and community development organization working to enhance the visual, economic, functional and historic significance of 11 communities and two counties spanning 27 miles along the Woodward Avenue corridor through public, private, local and regional partnerships.
Image credits to author Andrew Jameson via Wikipedia