In the early evening on Wednesday, April 3, Ford Motor Company held its first community meeting as part of its effort to inform locals about the most recent updates with its redevelopment of Michigan Central Station. The event was held at the Ford-owned Factory, a mixed-use office and retail space at Rosa Parks Boulevard and Michigan Avenue, where it also intends to set up an information center accessible to the public this summer.
In June last year, Ford made the stunning announcement that it would purchase and redevelop the train depot in Corktown, as well as a couple nearby buildings, for approximately $740 million.
So far, it has negotiated a mandatory community benefits agreement after meetings with the Neighborhood Advisory Council. But otherwise, there have been few concrete details released to the public.
At the event last night, Ford said it’s still in the information gathering phase and many of the steps taken so far have been about prepping the various buildings for redevelopment or demolition. Nonetheless, some substantive updates were given.
Perhaps the most newsworthy update came from Mary Culler, Detroit development director for Ford, who said that the company recently decided that all energy used to power its Corktown developments will be from renewable sources. That’s an ambitious goal for the train depot, which is approximately 500,000 square feet.
Paula Roy Carethers, a recent Ford hire who is working on a master plan for the area, said that it’s important to Ford that the building “has a lot of different uses and serves a lot of different people.
“This is not just a campus for Ford,” she added.
The blueprint of Michigan Central Station presented last night designated the famous ground floor and its imposing vaults for “amenities and community space,” which could mean a food hall, retail, open space for public meetings, or all the above. The middle floors would be offices for Ford and partners. The top floors for “hospitality”—either lofts, rentals, or hotel rooms.
At the nearby book depository, also being redeveloped by Ford, the ground floor was designated as a “maker space” and the top floors for “workspace.”
Again, Ford stressed, all of these designs are preliminary and flexible.
Richard Bardelli, the construction manager for the development, provided some updates as well. He said Ford has successfully winterized and secured Michigan Central Station, which included installing a temporary roof and cleaning the building of debris.
Architecture and history buffs will be glad to hear that the company began early procurement of around 5,000 Guastavino tiles that line the vault—many had been discolored and needed to be replaced. There was also restoration work done on the cornice and several building artifacts recovered, like the big copper clock and several elevator signaling buttons.
The biggest near-term project, which will get underway in the next few weeks, is the demolition of the Lincoln Brass factory at 2051 Rosa Parks Boulevard. Bardelli said the building will be gone by the end of June. Ford will do continual air and sound monitoring, as well as have a tight route for truck traffic, so as not to disrupt or harm nearby residents.
A new building will be constructed on the site, with the design phase beginning early next year and a completion date in 2022. The book depository has a 2021 completion date.
The company also announced its City:One Challenge, which will provide a $100,000 grant to a winning proposal that addresses a transportation need in the greater Corktown area. Up to 15 semi-finalists will also get a $2,500 stipend to iterate their idea prior to the pitch competition. More details about the challenge will be released soon.
Ford plans on holding community meetings like this every quarter. So expect more updates in the coming months.