Earlier in the week, news broke that Ford Motor Company is reportedly in talks with Crown Enterprises about acquiring Michigan Central Station – a disused Amtrak train station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood that’s sat vacant for the past three decades – and transforming the building into additional office space.
Now, the Detroit Free Press has learned that the city’s mayor, Mike Duggan, and his city redevelopment team are working to make that deal a reality. “I’ve been working on this train station for a while and it’s going to be exciting,” he said Wednesday, stopping short of spilling the beans on the plans for Michigan Central Station’s redevelopment.
According to the Free Press, Ford’s intent might be to turn the abandoned train station into a local hub for “Auto 2.0” – a term for what many automotive and professionals in automotive see as the industry’s next generation, in which ownership rates decline with the advent of the “sharing economy”, at the same time that self-driving automobiles go mainstream. This could mean that Detroit’s Michigan Central Station would serve as a logistical center for Ford’s future rideshare/ride-hailing services, staffed with employees focusing on customer support, fleet monitoring, and maintenance.
Reportedly, Ford could locate several hundred employees in Michigan Central Station, while also building out second offices for a handful of executives like CEO Jim Hackett and Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Should Ford acquire and transform Detroit’s iconic old Amtrak station, it would give the automaker a second workspace in the Corktown neighborhood, the first being The Factory at Corktown, which was purchased last year to house 200-some “Team Edison” employees. Attracting promising young talent to the company has become a priority for the automaker, which is also shelling out more than a billion dollars to radically transform its American headquarters and product development campuses with new green spaces, recreation facilities, and sustainable technologies like geothermal climate control and rainwater recapture systems.
Ford is also drawing closer to completing a new downtown Dearborn development that features a combination of work and retail spaces.
Michigan Central Station first opened in 1913, “and when it opened it was intended to be the gateway to the Midwest for Detroit,” former Ford production supervisor Dave Sullivan told the Free Press. “How fitting that Ford intends to rehab a 20th-Century train station for development of 21st-Century mobility.”