photo: WWJ/Mike Campbell

Ford Unveils Restoration Plans For Michigan Central Station In Detroit [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

June 19, 2018 - 12:25 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - Hundreds attended a big celebration Tuesday as Ford Motor Co. and the city of Detroit kicked off plans to reimagine the abandoned old Michigan Central Station and the entire Corktown neighborhood.

Ford chairman Bill Ford said the company is planning a facility focused on the next phases in the auto industry, where the automaker will develop new technology, including for self-driving cars -- but that's not all. 

The historic building, Ford said, will become a "spectacular gathering spot" for people in Metro Detroit and a symbol that "Detroit is open for business for good."

"The grand hall is going to be completely renovated," Ford told WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. "We're going to have restaurants, coffee shops and really fun retail experiences there. We want to make it uniquely Detroit."

Video and photo renderings released by Ford show what the restored 500,000-square-foot building will look like when complete. 

"We plan to renovate the grand hall and make it majestic again," Ford told the crowd. "And we want local shops and local restaurants alongside the inventors and dreamers like Asia (young Detroit entrepreneur Asia Newson), and all the young people here on this stage mapping out this future with us."

"We're planning a modern workspace in the tower above and we plan to restore it all in an environmentally friendly way," he added, to a round of applause. 

Michigan Central Station Rendering
(Credit: Ford Motor Co.)

Michigan Central Station Rendering
(Credit: Ford Motor Co.)

Michigan Central Station Rendering
(Credit: Ford Motor Co.)

Corktown rendering
(Credit: Ford Motor Co.)

The station ceased transportation operations in 1988.  Local businessman Manuel "Matty" Moroun bought the building in the mid-1990s, but didn't do anything with it -- leaving the blighted property to fall into ruin. 

"For decades this station was the place where you knew you'd arrived," Ford said. "But once the last train pulled out, it became a place where hope left. As parts of Detroit hollowed out, so did this station. It became a symbol of the city's hard times -- a monument to it's struggles. It's time for that to change. It's time to remake this station."

 “Michigan Central Station is a place that in many ways tells the story of Detroit over the past century," he added. "We at Ford want to help write the next chapter, working together in Corktown with the best startups, the smartest talent and the thinkers, engineers and problem-solvers who see things differently — all to shape the future of mobility and transportation.”

Highlights of Ford’s new Corktown campus include:
•    The campus will be comprised of approximately 1.2 million square feet of property in Corktown
•    This new development will serve the community with a mixed-use space including office space for office and retail space, and some residential housing
•    Initial plans include locating approximately 2,500 Ford employees, most from the mobility team, to call Corktown their work home by 2022
•    There will also be space to accommodate 2,500 additional employees of partners and other businesses amongst Michigan Central Station and the other developments

 Also speaking at the event was an enthusiastic Gov. Rick Snyder, who says these plans will allow Detroit to put a new stamp around the world.

"It will be wonderful to see this thriving and vibrant with thousands of people working here, working in the neighborhoods -- great Detroiters finding wonderful career opportunities," Snyder said. "But it's more than that. As (Ford) talked about the future of their mobility efforts being here, it is something that has the opportunity not to transform just Detroit, not to transform Michigan, but to transform the world. Mobility is going to change your society in every nation in this world."

Ford has said the company expects the remodel to be finished by 2022.

Want to take a look inside? The company is holding a community Open House Friday, June 22 – Sunday, June 24 -- offering rare public tours of the train station before renovations begin. Get more information at this link