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Morouns buy Bel Air shopping center and movie theater in northeast Detroit

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The family, which owns the Ambassador Bridge, has unclear intentions for the 40-acre site

Front of a red and black movie theater. Over the glass entrance a sign reads “Bel Air Luxury Cinema.” Google Street View

Multiple outlets are reporting that the Moroun family, who owns the Ambassador Bridge and once owned Michigan Central Station, have bought the large Bel Air Shopping Centre on Detroit’s northeast side.

According to the Detroit News, the Moroun-operated Crown Enterprises bought the approximately 450,000-square-foot complex that’s south of 8 Mile Road and just east of Van Dyke Avenue for $6.7 million in October this year.

It’s unclear what exactly the Moroun’s plan to do with the over 40-acre site. Crain’s Detroit Business spoke with Michael Samhat, president of Crown Enterprises, who said only that it would be “repurposed.”

Kirk Pinho, writing for Crain’s, speculated that it would be demolished. The shopping center is less than 50 percent occupied and many tenants are looking to get out of their leases. It’s also directly north of Fiat Chrysler Assembly’s Conner Center, which is being converted into a kind of museum for historic and concept cars.

Bel Air Luxury Cinema, however, told Crain’s it still has 15 years left on its lease and no plans to close. In 2016, the theater was completely renovated with new recliners, decor, facade, and more.

The Morouns are notorious in development circles for sitting and speculating on property. Billionaire Manuel Moroun and his son, Matthew Moroun, have been accused of letting Michigan Central Station decay, trying to prevent construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and illegally redirecting truck traffic, to name a few criticisms.