On Tuesday, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its plan for the Michigan Central site, a project to transform the area around the city’s historic former train depot in the Corktown neighborhood into a campus focused on mobility and transportation methods that will determine the future of the automotive industry.

At a virtual community meeting, the automaker in Dearborn revealed its vision for the four-acre, 30-acre campus, which is in the midst of renovation through a $ 740 million project to connect the surrounding neighborhood. The carmaker described the planned campus as “an inclusive, vibrant and passable innovation neighborhood.”


“At Michigan Central, we take a collaborative approach to innovation, including providing flexible workspaces that attract and engage the best minds to meet complex transportation and related challenges as we work together to shape the future of mobility,” said Mary Cooler, Ford’s Director of Development. of the project and president of the Ford Fund, said in a statement.

Project leaders said that despite the new coronavirus pandemic, the project continues to operate, with the Book Depository building and parking center expected to open in early 2022, with Michigan Central Station completed by end of 2022

In 2018, Ford’s CEO Bill Ford announced plans to rebuild Michigan’s Central Depot, which had been abandoned since 1988, at the heart of an innovation hub that would eventually be home to about 5,000 employees.

The leading architect and strategic planner of the project is the New York-based practice of architecture and urbanism.

Construction plans, mobility platform

One of the key components of the plan is the refurbishment of the book depository building designed by Albert Kahn, which is located next to the station. Architectural firm Gensler is turning the building into a combined production space that will include collaboration areas, laboratories and innovation studios.

An outdoor playground and a café outside the bookstore will connect the building and the street. There will be a new main entrance in the northwest corner, connecting visitors with a footpath that connects the north, south and east entrances and connects with neighboring buildings and open spaces, a news release said.

“The interior will be extremely flexible, adaptable and versatile, where everything from walls and panels to furniture and fixtures can be flipped, moved or readjusted to support multiple applications so that workers can most effectively engage with space and with each other, ”said Lily Diego, director of design at Gensler’s Detroit office, in a statement.

Ford describes the roof as the “crown jewel” of the building because of the views it will offer to the station, the city, the coast and Canada.

The plans also include the West building, which is being built west of the station, and The Factory, where 250 members of Ford’s autonomous car division are already based.

Behind the station, Boston landscape architect Mikung Kim Design and the Detroit-based livingLAB are working to transform elevated train tracks into a mobility platform that connects the various buildings and includes open spaces for people and shared walkways for pedestrians and cyclists.

Ford and its partners will use the platform as a testing ground for emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

Bagley Parking Center

East of the station, Ford plans to build a parking garage and a mobility center with 1,250 parking spaces for workers. The hub will include outdoor artwork, two new public squares, green spaces and a tree shed. It will offer electric charging, intelligent parking and payment systems, space use sensors and smart lockers.

Ford is considering adding public amenities such as free Wi-Fi, toilets and bicycle storage. In addition to parking, micromobility solutions such as electronic bicycles and scooters will be offered. Ford is also considering offering nearby residents the use of a planned shuttle service that will move people and goods around the area.

Community response

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Alina Johnson, a resident of the Hubbard-Richard neighborhood, said she was looking forward to seeing the plans. Hubbard-Richard is one of the neighborhoods affected by the project.

Johnson said her main focus is on community benefits, such as funding, that would directly affect the neighborhood.

“We had different concerns in this community,” she said. “We are just a hotbed of activities because we are located between the Ambassador Bridge with the International Bridge Company in Detroit and only a few blocks from the station. I want to make sure that we receive benefits according to the (Community benefits regulation). “

Johnson said Ford was communicative and responsive during the planning process. As for the site plan, Johnson said the outdoor sites and plans for connections to downtown Detroit and the coast are interesting.

“Sounds wonderful, great,” she said. “I only care about density. We’ve been … a quiet, quiet jewel in the city for a long time, and if we have a big corporation to come in and say they’re going to do all this, that sounds great. “

But she said, “I just don’t want to get lost in the turmoil of development.”


Twitter: @JGrzelewski

Staff member Candice Williams is involved.

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