Ford Is Serious About Reviving The City of Detroit
This week, Ford Motor Company announced its long-rumored plan to buy the abandoned Michigan Central Station and restore it as hub for its future mobility ventures.
Michigan Central Station served as a main passenger hub for the city once it opened in 1913, but the train station and 18-story office tower has been empty and unused since 1988.
The company’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, has used the Michigan Central depot as a backdrop while publicly laying out plans for the 105-year-old train station and surrounding neighborhood.
Bill Ford said Tuesday that the company is reimagining mobility and “making a big bet on” its future with the investments. He says the depot and 17-story office tower will be redeveloped over the next four years.
Now a massive restoration project will make the building a part of Ford’s planned Corktown campus, with 2,500 Ford employees working in the area by 2022 plus 2,500 employees of other businesses.
In a phone call with CityLab, Ford CEO Jim Hackett expressed a vision for the Corktown campus to serve as a hotbed for start-ups, investors, and other “partners” in the self-driving vehicle space. “We get to demonstrate how the systems of the future work, and we get to live in it,” he said. “We’ll be eating our own food, in a sense, so that we understand how technology is evolving. We could do this anywhere in the world, and it will happen anywhere, but the fact we get to live in it in Detroit is an important advantage.”
Ford will occupy at least three buildings in the area as part of a mobility corridor Ford intends to build spanning Detroit to Ann Arbor to Ford’s home in Dearborn, Michigan. The company says it will redesign its Dearborn campus alongside Corktown campus.
No exact plans exist yet for either the station or the campus but Ford, told the New York Times he’d like to see the ground floors converted into a public space filled with shopping, dining, and urban bustle.