By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Creating Tomorrow Together.
That was the theme during Ford Motor Co’s. celebration June 19 making the redevelopment of the vacant Michigan Central Station official.
Over 3,000 people filled the area in front of the station in Corktown anticipating the future plans for the building which will house Ford employees, retail and restaurants.
“The building tells the story of Detroit in many ways,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said. “For 76 years, the train station was our Ellis Island, in a way. It’s what brought people here to Detroit. This station is a symbol — but Ford’s investment in Corktown is far from symbolic. We are making a big bet on our future.”
Ford plans to move 2,500 of its employees from its autonomous and electric vehicle divisions into the 18-story, 500,000-square-foot building by 2022.
“This will be the kind of campus where the emerging economy thrives — a collaborative ecosystem of companies, colleges, investors and innovators,” Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett said. “A knowledge cathedral that births new ideas.”
In May, Ford’s electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle teams moved into The Factory at Corktown, 1907 Michigan Ave. in Detroit.
Along with the factory and former train station, Ford purchased two acres of vacant land, the former Detroit Schools book depository and site of a former brass factory, all in Corktown.
Ford is aiming for 1.2 million square feet of space in the neighborhood with three-quarters of the space to be split between the company and partners.
“This is a milestone day with an iconic place coming back as a beacon of hope,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “Ford has been doing iconic things or 115 years and is continuing that by stepping up to transform the future mobility.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he received the call from former train station owner and Crown Enterprises Vice Chair Matthew Moroun on Dec. 24 telling him about the plans to sell to Ford.
“I want to thank the Matthew Moroun, Ford, my staff and everyone else involved for making this happen,” Duggan said. “Detroit is in an economic resurgence, and when Detroit does well, it’s good for everyone.”
In Dearborn, Ford is completing a $1.2 billion retransformation project by adding a research and engineering center and major work on the second campus near its headquarters. The goal for Ford is to move its 30,000 employees from its current 70 research and development buildings into the two campuses.
“The future of Ford Motor Company is here in this region,” Hackett said. “Detroit and Dearborn give us the best home field advantage in the world. Our investments will make Detroit the mobility capital of the world, once again.”
Ford is investing $60 million in downtown west Dearborn by purchasing and transforming the south side of Michigan Avenue on either side of Monroe Avenue to create Wagner Place: offices for employees, new restaurants and retail, green space and outdoor seating.
The 150,000-square-foot development will have office space for 600 Ford global data insights and analytics employees. The first floor will have retail and restaurants, two floors of work space and then a rooftop patio.
“Today is a great day for Michigan,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn). “Ford’s bold vision for Michigan Central Station means more than just more jobs, it will ensure that the heart of the auto industry stays right here in Michigan. It will help revitalize all of Michigan Avenue from Detroit to Ann Arbor, creating a mobility corridor that will be the center of transportation innovation and technology worldwide.
“Michigan Avenue will connect the University of Michigan, the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, and the new Central Station development right in Corktown.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])