Ford Paves a Path to the Future in Detroit with the Purchase of Michigan Central Station
The train station sits on the edge of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit, Corktown, the original Irish settlement in the city. The historic train station has loomed over the area for over a hundred years, and originally opened in 1913. At the turn of the last century, Detroit was nicknamed “The Paris of the Midwest” and was the center of innovation, growth and change. Around that same time the Ford Motor Company was starting and the founder, Henry Ford had his own roots in the Corktown area.
Michigan Central Station at its peak showed the growth and prosperity of Detroit and as times changed, the building often reflected the changes in the city. The train station was closed to the public in 1988 when Amtrak left, and the building was shuttered and fell into disrepair. Over the years, the building has been seen as a visible image of the disrepair, the issues the city has gone through and an unsure future.
In early June, the Ford Motor Company purchased the large historic building and announced that it had huge plans for the building, the city and their company as well.
Ford Has a Pattern of Investing in the City of Detroit and the Community
Since Ford started building cars and creating the automotive industry as we know it today, they have a history and pattern of investing back into the community they started in. From building the Renaissance Center downtown Detroit (now the headquarters for General Motors), preserving history with the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village and revitalizing the River Rouge Plant into a LEED certified building, this isn’t a new step for the Ford Motor Company. The company sees beyond their automotive roots and continuously reaches beyond that focus to build a brighter future for the area around them.
What Can We Learn from Michigan Central Station?
Michigan Central Station was built at a time when the city of Detroit was at the top of it’s game. The beautiful Beaux-Art building was the center of transportation at the time and the central hub to get to and from the city. While the years of disrepair are evident on the walls and exterior, the future looks bright for the building. With the building being structurally sound, Ford has plans to make the building the center of their new automotive complex and the area once again. The train station is once again going back to its roots as a transportation center but with a different type of vehicle using it as its focus.
What is in the Future for the Train Station, Ford and Detroit?
Ford has plans to renovate the train station and move over 5000 employees into the area within the next few years. The construction and repair of the structure is starting soon and should take four years before completion. Michigan central station will be the center of Ford’s new Corktown campus including a recently purchased building dubbed “The Factory” which is just down Michigan Avenue from the station. Additional buildings have been purchased by Ford and they will be renovating them over the upcoming years. The face of Corktown is already changing with small businesses, award winning restaurants and breweries opening.
Now with an automotive hub in the area, the Corktown neighborhood in Detroit will be seeing an even larger interest and growth in the area.
Innovators, Dreams and Entrepreneurs Thrive in the Motor City
Even with the hard times that fell on Detroit, there is a reason the city is being called “The Comeback City.” Creating, inventing and art is something that has been part of the Detroit story since the beginning and in the last decade that has become more apparent. The city of Detroit has been recreating itself and this come back has been brewing for a while. Now, with Ford’s investment back in the heart of the city this will continue.
Bill Ford announced at the press announcement at Michigan Central Station that not only will the main lobby of the beloved train station going to be open to the public, but the lobby will be filled with stores and shops for local creators, innovators, dreamers and businesses. They want the city of Detroit to continue to grow, thrive and stay to the maker city that created it. Partnering with small creators, Ford Motor Company continues to show their commitment to the city and its people.
The Future of Autonomous Vehicles
With the purchase of Michigan Central Station, Ford is literally positioning itself in the center of the Motor City. The station will be the headquarters for their Mobility division and the focus will be on the autonomous vehicles and the future of the automotive industry. Ford plans to have their first fully autonomous vehicles operational by 2021.
Ford’s plan for autonomous vehicles:
Ford Smart Mobility: our plan to be a leader in autonomy, connectivity, mobility, customer experience and analytics. The vehicle will operate without a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal within geo-fenced areas as part of a ride sharing or ride hailing experience. By doing this, the vehicle will be classified as a SAE Level 4 capable-vehicle, or one of High Automation that can complete all aspects of driving without a human driver to intervene.